GW2: Tick, Tock, Time Passing

One has been trying to go back to some semblance of a normal routine in GW2…

gw2normal

…insomuch as anything in a post-Heart of Thorns world can be considered “normal.”

What’s permanently changed, I fear, is the tone of the community.

Raid guild drama is a thing now. Those that prefer optimal and effective are now at loggerheads with those that have a more set vision of their character or simply do not yet have the resources to reach said optimal and effective state.

With the tight tuning of raids, the former feel more factually justified in outright attacking the latter group (or simply silently scorning them), and well, when people get attacked, they become defensive in turn and may attack back.

I dunno. My reaction to all this is to feel less inclined to participate in the general community, ducking back into the shelter of ever-so-slightly more laissez-faire guilds (though they too haven’t been completely immune) and isolating myself – presumably up to the potential point where said guilds implode if someone can’t take it any longer.

(At which point, I guess I look for yet another guild or re-evaluate my place in the game. I don’t know if it’s good news or bad news that I’ve lost the passion to get worked up about it either way, I just feel resigned, distant and somewhat mellow about it all.

A sort of old person’s “eh, it’s inevitable, why get worked up about how the world works, just live in it the best you can and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go” indifferent attitude has pretty much overtaken me.)

On a more personal level, I have been amused to discover that GW2 life now requires more scheduling than everyday real life (work included.)

I am not as stressed out as some other people are feeling, at being “on the clock” so to speak, mostly because I have a fantastic ability to ignore said clock when I don’t feel like it.

However, since I’m also a little obsessive and occasionally follow the cult of GTD in order to stay organized, I kinda need to have it all laid out in front of me so that I know what I’ve chosen to ignore (and what shouldn’t be ignored.)

gw2schedule

So yeah, I’ve now started a Google calendar for my GW2 guild events…

I haven’t even finished adding all the stuff of my NA guild yet (most of it will be moot since I can only make Sat/Sun stuff, and I’ve already memorized those timings.)

I tend to chuckle wryly when I look at it though, at the sheer craziness level of it.

Granted, most of the green stuff are TTS events, which are very much optional, and I strictly don’t have to attend -any- event at all (as long as I’m willing to deal with the consequences, such as being removed from a progression raid roster), but I like to touch base with my guilds whenever I can, especially if I also want to do said event they’re planning to do.

Squeezing personal solo time in between all these social get-togethers has been somewhat tricky.

The irony of it is that a good part of that solo time goes to dailies (oh, a world boss daily, so check Dulfy’s world boss timer – yes, I have it bookmarked) and half-hearted attempts at achievements/collections, many of which are in Heart of Thorns, so enter the new kid on the block, GW2 wiki’s event timers, which displays the HoT zone timers in easily understandable graphical form.

I really don’t mind it as much as some, but yeah, I can see why some people might be feeling stressed out.

What’s really been pissing me off over the last few days is the sudden weird increase in reported ping.

latency

What’s really strange is that for the most part, the game plays the same and it isn’t terribly noticeable. I guess I have to commend whichever department of Anet was working on masking the effects of ping, especially when it comes to dodging AoE red circles.

I was raiding all Saturday morning with 475 reported ping, and beyond one or two accidental teleports from a blue AoE that I apparently didn’t move out in time, and a little bit of skill lag, it wasn’t exasperating or  utterly unplayable.

However, I have no idea what this actually means in terms of objective DPS dealt, if there was any impact on that front.

(Our team got to about 5% of the Vale Guardian’s health, the closest I’ve gotten so far, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for next week.)

The good news is that I have absolutely ZERO desire to progress on to Gorseval while this plagues me, because I’m 100% certain that a glider malfunction WILL occur with such ping.

I learned this by utterly wasting a good bit of solo time trying to work on POIs and vistas and adventures that all required gliding.

After the fifth time my glider choked and refused to deploy while I was vainly attempting to reach the Wings of Gold aventure in Auric Basin, I thought to check my ping and discovered the abnormally high number.

(I hear some NA folks complaining about 200-300ms ping – I’m like “HAHAHAHAHA Welcome to -normal- Oceanic/SEA life. Why don’t you get gud now and see how you like it.”)

gw2tracert

A tracert to guildwars2.com suggests that the bulk of the slowdown might be happening somewhere around the Telia.net servers, which are apparently quite infamous for such issues (if only because they are a major backbone and the bulk of internet traffic goes through them or whatever.)

I can only pray that it’s just Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday week having an effect on Internet traffic and that this too shall pass.

If not, then someone somewhere needs to fix their shit.

In the meantime, this has a surprisingly mellowing effect on my stress levels because it’s like, this is -totally- out of my hands, there’s no point trying to obsess about being all optimal and effective and efficient and uber and try to be all elite successful raider bruhaha when YOU HAVE 600+ PING.

600+ ping can only be dealt with from a long-term patience mindset.

It’s either:

a) it will eventually go away and then you will have sufficient opportunity to try again and do whatever you want to do, in the long term

or

b) it won’t go away and you may as well quit this MMO and all other MMOs and go play singleplayer offline games.

There’s a certain pristine clarity that comes from basically not having any viable options beyond the basics.

“Ok, I can kill mobs solo very slowly and harvest nodes, or sit on the world boss bus. Or stay in the city and sort my inventory. Or I can quit and log off until the lag goes away. The end. That was easy.”

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GW2: Sigh, I’m Not Sure Why I Even Bother Trying

Remember that plea for less latency reliant jumping puzzles?

fallenandcantgetup

Didn’t happen.

113 apparently arbitrary wind blowbacks and counting.

Also, it is nigh impossible to jump with any precision when your character gets stuck in the fallen flat position.

GW2: SAB – Informal Stats and Iterated Improvements

Over the past couple days, I’ve been watching the stats on my quick reference bauble guides with a good amount of curious interest.

Here’s World 1:

Zone 1

stats-sab-w1-1

Zone 2

stats-sab-w1-2

Zone 3

stats-sab-w1-3

This is all very informally speaking, since the sample size is pretty small, but I found a number of things fairly intriguing nonetheless.

Interest in grinding baubles via dig and bomb locations in the SAB took a steep dive after Sep 18, when the Tequatl patch dropped. Which matches anecdotal evidence of walking into the SAB these past few days and seeing practically no one around. Nearly everyone appears to be doing their best to cram into Sparkfly Fen.

World 1 Zone 2 – The Dark Woods – appears to be the favorite for bauble farming (on normal mode, anyway.) More people appear to view just that page alone, rather than visit all three as I would have expected from the way I use it as a lazy man’s memory aid, following the link from W1-1 all the way to W2-1.

Slightly less people check the page for W1-1, which could be because it doesn’t have too many baubles to offer, or simply because there aren’t that many in what is a small zone, so it can be remembered offhand without needing to refer to a guide.

About 2/3 of the people who check the guide follow on to W1-3, which is also fairly decent in bauble yields.

What I did find shocking was the stats for W2-1.

World 2 Zone 1

stats-sab-w2-1

Yes, less than HALF of the people who bothered to check the guide for the least popular zone of World 1, or less than a quarter of the people who are content to farm the most popular zone, visit World 2 Zone 1.

The drop is THAT noticeable.

Folks, you can easily get 500 baubles from a run through of World 2-1, plus two bauble bubbles from completion. And the rapids has not been hellish since Piranha Bend got tweaked.

If the quantity of baubles and the level of difficulty aren’t turning people away, then… what is?

My best guess is available time and the perceived size and reputation of the World 2 zones.

Some folks may simply not have enough time every night to run through four zones, and find one complete world a nice stopping point, perhaps. Or they simply run just one zone (1-2).

World 2 zones also seem very big on first glance and they might have been once bitten twice shy after having given World 2 a try when the SAB came out two weeks ago.

It almost makes me wish I could be a fly on the wall when Colin Johanson and Josh Foreman ran their datamining stats to see the real numbers frequenting the SAB… just to see if there’s any correlation between mine and theirs.

Funny, huh? I think it goes to show where the bulk of the majority interest lies. Ascended rewards, loot pinata, epic boss fights, the newest content.

The SAB now seems like a has-been – everyone hardcore must have already swept up the cosmetic rewards they wanted, finished their achievements and moved on like locusts.

Which is pretty sad, because some more quality-of-life improvements have snuck into the SAB since the Tequatl Rising patch and haven’t been talked about or highlighted as much.

Only the slowpoke loners like me who chose to give up the first few days of Camping @ Tequila (Only To Fail in Overflows) in favor of peacefully plodding through World 2 Tribulation Mode and finish the last achievements have been able to appreciate them.

fairdarttraps

Dart traps have gotten SO MUCH FAIRER.

Instead of a barely visible extrusion covered by a checkerboard red and black smooth texture that absolutely does not suggest that anything could shoot out of it, the new upgraded dart traps do contain little tube-like protrusions that suggest projectiles.

The less visible sneaky traps are also highlighted by a green glow that significantly improves visibility, especially the evil little ones that were originally hidden between two tall grey blocks, whose only warning of their presence was when they one-shot you in the back, producing many “WTF”s.

I felt that this made the top area of the grey block puzzle a lot more palatable. (Tribulation Cloud was the main pain in the butt, which is as it should be, in terms of difficulty modes.)

Gong pagoda is still slightly annoying, but not unbearably so. I even managed the full gong run on the first try (even though I was prepared to die like Dulfy suggested and wait for the gong to hit bottom), which may have been a lucky stroke of latency and reflexes, or subconsciously helped by the dart traps being ever so slightly easier to see and thus react more appropriately to.

As for World 2 Tribulation Mode feedback, the major nuisances were the latency-sensitive areas as expected.

World 2-2’s trampoline sequence near the end with the red pillars caused a not insignificant amount of rage as I simply couldn’t get sufficient momentum bouncing on the edge and moving forward. I had to bounce in three jump sequence and move forward/twist the camera fast enough and PRAY I got enough height. Many many deaths.

(Don’t get me started on the poison waterfall and lilypads of World 1-3’s shop. I haven’t revisited it since the last patch, but that one was CRUEL to any latency whatsoever. Easily 120+ deaths before somehow getting in. If GW2 tracks player deaths in map locations, I’m sure that would have turned up like a major hotspot like a raging forest fire on a satellite map. I even deactivated virus scanning and firewalls for that, in the hope of not additionally slowing down -any- packets between me and the server beyond geographic location lag.)

World 2-3’s main trouble spot was the area with ice spikes and blowing gatekeepers where there are two bananas and a tricky path to skate/hop across with No Clouds blocking the way. Not sure if it was latency again or just lack of control over ice, but it was very easy to slide a few millimeters too far and not be able to stop in time, or end up with that oh-so-enjoyable experience of dying in mid-air when you -think- you’ve cleared the lethal obstacle but the server tells you, “NOPE” half a second later.

Eventually, persistence got me through.

I’d talk about the zone being nearly entirely dark as one of those fake difficulty schticks, but players learned how to get around that long ago. I took one look, jumped around for fun for a couple minutes with a torch to enjoy the ambience, then promptly adjusted gamma. Turnabout is fair play, after all.

The only downside of that was that I used the in-game graphics options settings for it, which can only be done in full-screen mode, and that screwed up a three-hour first attempt when I alt-tabbed out to watch how Dulfy jumped the clouds to get to the secret shops where Moto’s Finger is available.

I apparently carelessly left myself in the path of a bouncing goat, which promptly must have knocked me off, then pure chance must have left me out of lives and chucked me into the continue screen. Which then must have run itself down while I was still blissfully watching and rewinding Youtube video in complete ignorance.

I switched back to find myself in the lobby of the Super Adventure Box, rapidly gaining a mood that was distinctly NOT as bright and sunny as the surrounding environment. Went to bed completely stumped by what had happened and only put two and two together later.

The next night, I only took two hours to get back to that point, with no need to refer back to the video, so there’s something to be said for practice.

I’m also pleased to report that this slow learner has finally figured out how to dodge the Storm Wizard’s charge after reading a bunch of forum tips. Turns out my issue was being too concerned with keeping track of where the wizard was and always having the camera swiveled to keep him in view. (I have tank tendencies, situational awareness, y’know?!)

Keeping two trapeziums away and staying near the edge, reflecting his attack and then immediately swiveling to run away along the edge without ever looking back is all it took.

It was trickier trying to figure out what to do with a yellow skin. My guardians are fire-Blood Legion themed (never gonna let that fiery dragon sword go) and blue holographic-themed respectively. I was fairly happy with their look ages ago.

Eventually the warrior alt volunteered. He’s -supposed- to be Iron Legion and has blue-and-grey metal themed armor to match, but he’s been moonlighting in a Flame Legion disguise in his berserker gear. Perhaps too much so given the number of times I keep getting targeted when doing CoF path 2 during the assassin-clearing stage.

Maybe the 8-bit axe will help distinguish him a little more from the NPCs.

yellowaxe

Maybe not.

I overwrote a Zenith Reaver skin for that, so it’s really a “too many skins, too few characters” kind of deal.

The green greatsword is still sitting in the bank. I don’t have a real clue of what to do with it. Maybe the asura can use it at some point once I figure out what other stats I can use. I already have two greatswords in his invisible bag… (and two staffs, and a hammer, and a scepter and focus…)

WTB: savable skins and wardrobe/gear switching capabilities.

GW2: Your Chance to Vicariously Live Through SAB World 2-1 Piranha Bend With My Latency

  • Multiple repeated attempts in one small area. Check.
  • Breaking down the problem into as small parts as possible to narrow down its location. Check.
  • Documentation via video and writing. Check.

Yep, I feel like I’ve just beta tested some content!

I had some time yesterday and decided to spend it on exploring World 2-1 Rapids on normal mode.

The compulsive draw was the prospect of discovering secret stuff, and wanting to experience the difficulty level prior to the impending fixes.

(What can I say, I’m a masochist that way, I need to experience things firsthand both ways to do a PROPER comparison. I would not feel good telling you guys that things are easier/better if I never even tried it prior.)

I pulled out the last of my continue coins from the prior update (all seven of them) to add to the three collected via World 1, resolving to give up and wait for fixes when they were all used up.

The first piece of advice I have for anyone wanting to play SAB’s world 2 is to GO SAVE UP 325 BAUBLES, look up a guide and buy yourself the nunchakus / chain-sticks from World 2-2 on Infantile.

This eases up the difficulty of mob fights considerably, especially if you’re prone to being a little laggy or slow on reaction times.

Much of the rest of 2-1 is then fairly manageable difficulty, though it may still seem quite lengthy during the process of finding the right jumps to get from checkpoint to checkpoint.

If your latency is no good, you may experience a little more problems at areas with moving water. In most places, there are secret ways to either bypass a good bit of that water or break down the jumping across dodgy rapids into small jumps by looking out for and staying on solid rocks as much as possible.

(If your ping is such that you can get flung off solid rock, then I have no solution for you besides waiting for the fix rumored to hit today or tomorrow, and praying it is effective. Sorry.)

With the exception of notorious Piranha Bend with multiple water spouts.

You can bypass the first part of it up to the checkpoint by using the lower flower, shooting into the secret passage through the waterfall, moving past the bears and onto the top platforms.

I suggest breaking down each jump if you’re having difficulty coordinating flawless swift bounces by each separate solid rock. Take your time to grok the pattern of the appearing and disappearing spouts, bomb your turtle if you need that additional platform stability, and do your best to get to the safe rock.

This is highly ping-dependent at present, so I will not stoop to being condescending. Your system and connection will either handle it a lot better than mine if you live nearer the servers, or you may have a similar or worse experience than me and be absolutely helpless to do anything about it. We’re all eagerly waiting for that fix in the hopes it will clear up the problems.

I ended up quite badly defeated by the penultimate jump with three geysers.

Two possible strategies if you want to try them. With good ping or a sight unseen count-off from the rock to compensate, wait for the part of the pattern where all three geysers appear at once and do a continuous swift hop from spout to spout to spout to rock. Dulfy managed this. I consistently couldn’t.

If you live around South East Asia and have similar ping to ArenaNet’s servers (200-300ms), you can also attempt this method. Wait for the three geysers to appear. Hop onto the first geysers. Do not jump yet. Wait for the second geyser to vanish. Begin counting once it vanishes. “1, 2, jump!” Jump on the word jump. If your timing and ping coincides, you’ll faith leap right onto the second as it appears.

Stay there. The third geyser should vanish in the next split second. Count off again. “1, 2, jump!” and faith leap onto the third. Hop from there to rock.

I got close three times with this strategy. From the last geyser, my advice is to hurl yourself to the right. I had to blindly leap into the waterfall and if you just go straight ahead, you’ll risk banging against rock and still being in water sweeping range.

There is no advice I can give for the random syncing errors with moving water that you may encounter, besides wait for a fix. Share in our misery in the meantime.

In total, I started with 25 lives and 290 baubles at that checkpoint. I started video recording at life 12 when I managed to analyze where my problem area was. I was down to life 3 and 184 baubles (just from bombing turtles) when I finally managed to luck across the waterfall.

The two attempts in real-time that you might like to watch for the methodical step-by-step and count-off strategy are here:

If you feel like watching my six attempts at trying to do the jump in one continous motion Dulfy-style and getting screwed up by lag, have at it. It’s highly tedious, even at doubled speed.

Add on seven more attempts that were screwed up due to operator error (to err is human, after all, and I am far from a pro jumper) if you have the stomach for repetitive content.

Now double the time you just spent watching the videos to get a little closer to what it felt like experiencing it in person.

I really hope that fix works.

GW2: Less Latency-Reliant Content Please

Anyone know someone rich?

It occurs to me that shipping a couple Anet devs to Australia to try out their content on 300 ping or worse might do wonders for less latency-reliant content.

As much as we keep harping on this, there is no experience like actually doing it in two physical locations to -feel- the difference.

With everything else the same. Identical computer, player, characters.

I remember the first time I felt keenly how different games played with different ping.

My old MUD relied on spam quaffing heal potions to survive fights. I was studying in the US at the time so my university connection to Canada (where the MUD was) was normally 30ms. Returning on vacation back to Singapore, my ping was 280-300ms. Same character, same player, same client, same computer.

Performance drop, distinctly noticeable. I died a number of times at home because I couldn’t spam quaff heals fast enough. I ended up letting someone else do most of the tanking and looking a lot less cool and show-off-y than I could be with 30ms ping.

Around the same period, different game. I played Team Fortress Classic and Natural Selection a lot in those days – West Coast US server communities were the best, friendly and cooperative. Ping? 30-100ms. Back in Singapore, I tried visiting the same haunts and had 300+ms latency. If not outright kicked by server for bad ping, performance was noticeably poorer. Unplayable, pretty much.

So I ended up in Singapore servers, where nearly everyone played deathmatch in team-based objective games and you got the feeling you were mostly playing against 12-14 year olds who were going to be called away to dinner at any moment.

Poor compromise: Japanese, Korean or Hong Kong servers at 120ms odd ping, where people played a little more cooperatively, but you couldn’t understand half of what they were saying since most of it turned up as square boxes or special characters.

Least sucky option: Australian servers at 200ms or so ping. Still at a reaction time disadvantage but slightly more mature community.

I badly missed my West Coast servers. Suffice to say I didn’t play as much FPSes while on vacation as when one was technically supposed to be studying. 🙂

This isn’t my video, as I haven’t built up the determination to try out World 2 normal mode yet.

(There are multiple more interesting competing goals like building up magic find and crafting to 450.)

I suspect my experience might be similar if those fixes don’t arrive soon.

And he’s not even playing a Charr.

Maybe I should look into getting FRAPS working so you can either point and laugh or cringe and vomit. (And I know just the cage and camera angle for that one.)