GW2: Tree Falls in Forest, No One Around To Hear?

The biggest damn tree of them all...

If constant, gradual change happens and no one can even remember how it was before, is it still a Living Story?

One man zerg of a now-ignored dynamic event.
One man zerg of a now-ignored dynamic event.

I’ve been taking advantage of the very subtle living story prompt to wander Kessex Hills on my necro alt.

The secondary purpose is very leisurely map exploration (since the checkpoints are there) and seeing if I get any lucky colored key drops, but primarily, I’m doing it because I like trundling along in the open world with a minion zerg going glompglompglomp, killing anything I see and denuding the place of any gathering nodes.

Given that the number of people I see doing something similar can be counted on one hand, on Tarnished Coast – reputed home of PvE crowds, I can only conclude that this activity is about as popular as street-sweeping was in City of Heroes.

Oh, the crowds are on the map, all right.

[Viathan Waypoint] [Gap Waypoint] goes my mapchat every so often.

They’re running in a little triangle between the wurm queen, the alchemist and the two possible spider queen locations. Chasing champion bags, keys and Living Story achievements.

It’s so crowded that getting the wurm queen shockwave jumping achievement is tricky because she only gets off maybe a few shockwaves before falling over dead. The best advice I got was to go guest to a less crowded server to do them.

(I went to Fergusson’s Crossing during offpeak, and was amazed to find only 3-5 souls having the run of the map and the champions. We get zergs of 15-30+ bumrushing every Nightmare is Over event – if you aren’t already waiting there, there’s not much hope of getting to it before it dies. T’was much easier to do the achievements when you have a chance of actually getting damage credit.)

But I digress.

The point is that I haven’t seen much comment on the more subtle changes to Kessex Hills that address the fallen tower’s aftermath.

Quaggan refugees are all over the various havens and outposts. This batch is the cutest, the calves rearing on their hind legs and staring agawk at the big village and the magic snow.
Quaggan refugees are all over the various havens and outposts. This batch is the cutest, the calves rearing on their hind legs and staring in amazement at the big village and the magic snow.
The Moogooloo village waypoint was staved in by collapsing debris. Overheard conversation: Quaggans planning to relocate.
The Moogooloo village waypoint was staved in by collapsing debris. Overheard conversation: Quaggans getting a relocation effort underway. The lake can no longer supply sufficient security, non-toxic food and clean drinking water.
Spillage from the collapsed tower appears to have made all the fish in the southeast outflow toxic. (Ok, so my necromancer probably isn't helping either.)
Spillage from the collapsed tower appears to have made all the fish in the southeast outflow toxic. (Ok, so the stuff spewing from my necromancer probably isn’t helping either.)
And what of Triskell Quay, where fishermen make their living? Many villagers have been sickened, in a new revision of the heart, which was originally to rescue them from kidnapping krait, iirc.
And what of Triskell Quay, where fishermen make their living? Many villagers have been sickened by toxin, in a new revision of the heart, which was originally to rescue them from kidnapping krait, iirc.
In Kessex Haven, a fisherman valiantly tries to offload his *hem* perfectly edible catch.
In Kessex Haven, a fisherman tries valiantly to offload his *hem* perfectly edible catch.
Much to a sharp-nosed charr's frustrations...
Much to a sharp-nosed charr’s frustrations…

How do we interpret this lack of reaction?

Is it that the changes are so small and atmospheric that no one thinks they’re worth commenting about?

Is that the changes are so small that they’re hard to notice?

Is it simply because no one is even around to notice them because they have no reason to walk around all of the Kessex Hills again?

Or is it the vagaries of memory putting a damper on the idea that we can have constant gradual change in an MMO that will be appreciated by players?

To be honest, even I don’t remember how it was before.

Overheard: Lionguard clarifying their stance with centaurs, and distinguishing themselves from Divinity's Reach. Was this conversation always there?
Overheard: Lionguard clarifying their stance with centaurs, and distinguishing themselves from Divinity’s Reach. Was this conversation always there?
I feel like there's more ruins exposed on this bandit hideout... but I suspect they've always been like that?
I feel like there’s more ruins exposed on this bandit hideout… but I suspect they’ve always been like that?

I can only highlight places where I think there was nothing before, but now have something.

Well, besides the honking obvious changes...
Well, besides the honking obvious changes…
...the Consortium is busy hassling quaggan refugees while the Lionguard are wondering where to put them all...
…the Consortium is busy hassling quaggan refugees while the Lionguard are wondering where on Tyria is safe to put them all… (while the idea of quaggans in tropical Southsun paradise sound great on paper, one can’t help but think we may as well grind them up and put ’em in a can labeled karka chum)
Other atmospheric conversations abound. I suppose this is why asura invented baby bottles and golem nannies very quickly, rather than suckle their young for long.
Other atmospheric conversations abound. I suppose this is why asura invented baby bottles and golem nannies very quickly, rather than suckle their young for long.

And the big question is, should the bulk of players care?

On one hand, no matter how the scenery changes, as a player, I still have a Kessex Hills to run around in. Metagame-wise, there’s always going to be mobs in my face to kill. Maybe a new dynamic event replaced an old one, or maybe the old one is still around as well. NPCs changing around me? Not part of my story, not on my attention radar.

What’s in it for me? The champions drop loot, the green names just spew endless text of one kind or another.

Inflict consequence, you say? Have players lose something for good? Something important that would hurt in its absence? Ah, then the crying starts. Wut? I never got to exploit this while the going was good! Unfair! The older players had an advantage I didn’t have!

Then again, if it wasn’t important, if it didn’t hurt, if there was something else in lieu of the other thing that went away, won’t we just run into the scenario of a big ol’ player shrug?

I frankly don’t know which way I’d want it.

Story and consequence-wise, one makes sense. Gameplay and convenience-wise, the other is a lot more attractive (and spares my bank from hoarding all kinds of stuff on the offchance it may disappear one day.)

Everyone's camping the shit up there.
Pretty much everyone but me camping the shit up there.

Obviously, a minority cares about the tiny details. I’m running around taking screenshots and forgoing goodness knows how many champion chest drops in an hour.

Then I hear for the umpteen time on mapchat, “Where is the tri-color chest?” and I have to wonder about the many players who can’t even bothered to look for a chest icon on their map and just demand their instant answers from the populace instead.

It’s enough to make a lore writer cry.

GW2: Tower of Nightmares – First Thoughts

I really wanted it to be more spiky and less...flowery.

Scarlet?

Again?

*sigh*

And Toxic Alliance? Really?

Could no one have come up with a better name for them? The Venomous Court, fer example.

Toxic this, toxic that, anti-toxin everywhere… I need a round of detoxification by the time I’m done with this update.

Well, so now that the hope of getting some pure krait and some Bubbles-related non-Scarlet contaminated stuff is no longer a reality, we are at least on track with the thorns/evil nightmare/Scarlet-related themes and continuing the storyline of 1001 Alternate Alliance Nights.

The biggest vibe I get from this is a Molten Alliance do-over. How Flame and Frost should have started.

  • Foreshadowing.
  • A noticeable change in the landscape.
  • Two relatively likeable characters to follow the story with. (So how many people are shipping Marjory and Kasmeer by now?)
  • Obvious dynamic events across the zones involved, not just repairing signs. Putting the bulk of activity back into the open world where it should belong.
  • Decently achievable achievements.

The new faction, besides the puke-inducing name, looks well-built.

The new krait models look good (I’m always partial to glows) and the coiling animations are sweet.

The nightmare court offshoot follows the twisted clockwork pattern of having a downed state and requiring a finisher, which kills a number of birds with the same stone – PvE folks get to show off pretty gem store finishers if they want, it ups the sophistication level of the PvE fight to something a bit more PvP-like and increases the theoretical difficulty of the faction somewhat (though with the amount of enthusiastic zerging on, it’s hard to tell as yet. We await the dungeons.)

The dreamthistle weapons are pretty sweet as well. I’m glad I’m still sitting on a Black Lion ticket, though I still have the issue of who to put it on and what weapon to upgrade. If not for being broke from regearing my thief, I’d consider upgrading my sylvari necro beyond functional althood. Oh well, always another month of accumulating more gold.

With everything so smooth and comfortable, why is it that I can’t seem to work up the enthusiasm to care very much this week?

I log in, try and get a little bit of the way towards some achievement or other, do a few Toxic Alliance DEs in Kessex, log right back out again while still telling myself that I’m not done with all the doable dailies yet and that I’ll do them… later.

Perhaps it’s having too many goals spreading my attention.

  • I’m not done with the WvW season 1 achievements, and I really hate them hanging over my head like that. I logically know they are supposed to last for 7 weeks and that I can take my time with them, but but…
  • There’s one more Mad King Says achievement that should thankfully be checked off by tonight.
  • I still haven’t decided if I should give up on the Bloody Prince mini or not. Not would mean that I should direct my attention more towards dungeon-running and gold-making, which would also conveniently increase my familiarity with more dungeons – something I do want to do and expand my repetoire beyond the CoF comfort zone.
  • There’s still Tequatl. There’s ALWAYS going to be Tequatl. Goddamn, I want that mini so fucking much. (On the bright side, I did get -one- rare aquabreather once that is for heavy armor users, which is awesome. Except I have two guardians and a warrior and I haven’t decided who to put it on yet. It’s decent gold and rares every day, regardless, for someone who can’t be arsed to use timers and chase world boss spawns.)

Maybe it’s just the other things going on in my life occupying my leisure time attention.

Playing Terraria requires a good bit of goals-planning and wiki-reading, not to mention actual building and adventuring time that would distract from GW2.

I’ve also been working on a semi-secret project that is still a work-in-progress that I hope to be able to share soon. It’s sort of GW2-related, but involves more work with the hands and time away from a computer. As it takes shape, I keep wanting to sit down with it more than grind out the next 5 pristine toxic spores.

Oh well, all in good time. I need more patience with this sort of gradual progress. I keep wanting to have everything done and finished, rather than left open and steadily worked on.

GW2: The Krait and the Kessex Hills

There's something else in the water!

Wahey! The Halloween patch is here!

And I’m super-excited and majorly hyped!

Ironically, I haven’t even touched ANYTHING Halloween-related besides one or two random carving pumpkins and the beginning story instance (which I must happily note is apparently soloable and groupable.)

Why?

The Living Story takes another measured step!

Heading to the GW2 Reddit is always one of the initial things I do after a new patch hits, in between reading official patch notes, downloading it, scanning Dulfy’s new skin galleries and logging-in to scrutinize new changes in the Achievements tab.

The reddit threads tend to be the source of “unofficial” changes – glitches or exploits that got nerfed, inadvertent changes or screw-ups, and most interestingly to this explorer soul, the purposefully dropped but unannounced breadcrumbs left for players to discover and discuss on their own.

Someone sharp-eyed spotted a new camp with our favorite intrepid duo Marjory and Kasmeer in the Kessex Hills.

Invisible wall? Krait?

This I had got to see.

I briefly debated which waypoint to pick in Kessex Hills and eventually settled for visiting the quaggans at Moogooloo.

owmynose

And promptly ran facefirst into said invisible wall.

Piles of logs were strewn everywhere under and above the water.

newbeach

What used to be forest, was now denuded.

underwaterorcswerehere

Rising above it all, a mysterious shadowy object

shadow-base

that extended into the clouds.

shadow-top

Talking with the NPCs reveal some intriguing teasers. They suspect it’s a mesmer illusion of some kind. An asura named Mistress Kari has gone to investigate but is overdue and hasn’t returned, leaving her golem AUX-1 to wait and occupy itself by setting up the camp. Kasmeer being a mesmer has been called in as well, Marjory’s come along for whatever reason and they’re sitting around trying to figure out how to dispell the illusion and reveal what the krait are doing beneath it…

…to be continued next patch….?

In between dancing around with glee with the thought that we might be seeing more hints of Bubbles the as-yet-unexplored-in-the-lore Elder Dragon and the prospect of possibly more underwater combat sophistication and skills and new underwater zones (I’m weird, I know!)

“Self,” said I, “I have a pretty good inkling of what that shadowy structure is.”

I did, after all, engage in some elaborate reading of the wiki while speculating on the Colossus and any possible relation to the Labyrinthine Cliffs and/or Abaddon and/or the Unending Ocean and managed to make a brief sidetrek regarding krait, who also happen to all be somewhat interconnected – what with the only known instance of a Temple to Abaddon being now sunken into the Straits of Devastation as the Cathedral of Hidden Depths and infested with the reptilians.

I mentioned there was a surprising amount of lore regarding them, and was intrigued but did not cut and paste the section on their religion at the time:

Religion is at the heart of krait society, and in turn, the obelisks are at the heart of krait religion. The obelisks are rare, eerily smooth stones made from a unique material found on the ocean floor. According to the Oratuss, the priesthood of the krait, the obelisks mark the sites of the “ascension” of ancient krait prophets to some higher realm, but land-based scholars speculate that they are simply ancient krait monuments whose purpose have been long-forgotten due to the oral nature of the krait’s religious texts.

Krait doctrine fortells the return of the obelisks’ prophets, bringing with them massive armies to flood the surface of the world and destroy other species. It is to these prophets that the krait sacrifice their slaves, believing that they will serve the prophets as they expand their otherworldly armies. The krait regularly use magical and mathematical means to attempt to predict the time of the prophets’ return, but have yet to be successful.

Like their obelisks, all krait are steadfast and immobile in their beliefs. Their legends say those on land were driven out of the sea by the prophets and forbidden to return. This regarded with a degree of scepticism by other races but the krait refuse to listen such things and are happy to kill to ensure that the krait religion is not defamed. All krait are willing to die for the continuity of their species and for the cause of their prophets.

The religion of the krait is what allows the Oratuss to control the entire race. Religious “texts” followed by the krait are passed down verbally through these priests and priestesses. The vast length of the texts allows the priests, who have dedicated their lives to the texts, to make subtle changes to the wording and manipulate the interpretation of their legends to serve their purposes and support their power.

I suspected we would be seeing the krait again eventually, since a decent amount of work seems to have gone into developing their backstory and culture from the beginning of the game, but had no idea it was going to be this soon.

Which is utterly, utterly cool.

That shadowy structure, you ask?

I give you the concept art by Kekai Kotaki.

800px-Krait_obelisk_land_concept_art
(Images from GW2 wiki)
424px-Krait_obelisk_major_concept_art
(Images from GW2 wiki)

Krait obelisks.

They make me swoon. I am utterly in love.

I cannot wait.

Coincidentally, there are references to krait prophets somehow ‘ascending’ to higher realms and here we have Scarlet having touched the Eternal Alchemy and all that thematic ‘gods’ and ‘mists’ jazz.

And we already have invasion technology in place – a very popular activity at that. (Calling it here, armored scale prices will plunge when the krait invasions start, just as ancient bones are plummeting from Halloween now…)

I guess Tequatl might be dropping rare aquabreathers for a reason, after all.

Hindsight, unfortunately, while 20/20, is still hindsight.

I’m rather miffed that I did not make the link of the beach and tree silhouettes and sky in the background of the first picture with the Kessex Hills, which would have hinted at a planned creeping krait invasion as a potential Living Story development some day.

I can only make the excuse that I don’t play human characters very often and thus spend very little time in that zone.

This also unfortunately means that I don’t have any ‘before’ screenshots of Kessex Hills unless I took one or two by pure chance, and do not feel like trawling through thousands of them on the off chance that I did.

Luckily, the wisdom of crowds being what it is, -somebody- else must have and Google Image search and the GW2 wiki come to the rescue yet again.

Little did he know that the background would be more important than his new set of leather armor.
Little did he know that the background would be more important than his new set of leather armor.

Fortunately for our purposes, he left his minimap in the screenshot, and it was easy enough to figure out the spot where he stopped.

newkessexhills

Fairly drastic clear-cutting has taken place around the same area.

I miss the flowers the most.

As for the old Auld Red Wharf?

Image from GW2 wiki
Image from GW2 wiki

datpumpkin

Yeah.

As usual, I’m kinda torn again between sorrowfully missing the old stuff and kinda gleeful that things are changing.

I guess it’s easier to swallow this time around because all we’re missing for now is a couple of forests that looked all the same anyway and a ruined village that just got even more flattened.

But you know, I’d get those last looks at the view clear across the lake while you still can.