GW2: That Multiheaded Hydra – Choice Paralysis & Dailies & Story Overwhelm

Guild Wars 2 has always been a haven in the MMO space for horizontal progression.

No vertical forever-treadmill where one chases higher and higher numbers, for glory and ambition or merely for the sake of not falling behind. Proponents of lateral progression, of which I am one of them, herald the inherent freedom in being able to strike out along multiple paths and feel like one is still earning valuable rewards.

Instead of a blinders-like simplicity of hanging clothes on your virtual doll to make numbers go up, there are the spicier complex options of following your heart and intrinsic motivation (or simple whim) and having a variety of stuff fall into your pockets regardless, or strategically optimizing different maximized routes towards different goals.

Such goals could be specific pretty clothes for your virtual doll, or specific gear/resources that make numbers go up (to a point) or change the numbers around more easily, or gaining knowledge and practice in improving player skill (thus making numbers also go up), or making other numbers (gold, achievement points, etc.) go up.

Lately though, I’ve been wondering if there might come a point when enthusiastically added content over a long period of time might ever amount to TOO much.

Take GW2 dailies:

We began with a simple daily tab (and a weekly tab that has now since been removed). There were PvE dailies, PvP dailies, WvW dailies. Doing a mix of those or solely those in the game mode one prefers, nets you the daily reward. Sounds great! Flexibility of choice and all that, no?

Somehow, over time, we’ve had EVEN MORE daily tabs added. There’s festival dailies, when a festival is running. Dailies for strike missions, dailies for fractals, dailies for a whole bunch of living world season zones if you happen to be still doing those and a very random one for krait hunting and swim infusions.

Roughly a week ago, Mailvatar was lamenting about how dailies in most games cause FOMO. I can confidently say that GW2 does not have that specific problem with its dailies, because there is no human being that can finish all of GW2’s dailies in a day, and repeat that feat for days on end.

No, seriously, the above are not all the dailies there really are in GW2. GW2efficiency will tell you that THESE are all the things that reset on a daily cycle that would net you rewards.

All 286 of them. Many on timers. Some group content. All the jumping puzzles in the world (literally.) Go.

Go on, go.

Go do your dailies!

Hahahaha. Mental shutdown is more likely.

Out of pure survival, I can pretty much guarantee that every single GW2 player knows how to pick and choose what dailies they want to do. Be it absolutely none of them (except by accident) or a very specific subset of them.

But rest assured, it IS a subset.

Heck, I’m a GW2 veteran, dealing with dailies is small beans. When I decided to restart GW2 and go after Chuka and Champawat, I made my own mini-kanban on Notion to figure out what dailies I wanted to do. Priority: earn game money; Condition: please don’t make me face instanced group content daily.

The actual three dailies for 2 gold, the ley line anomaly, maybe some map metas or world bosses that bring in gold, some gathering nodes and so on are on the list. Everything else is not.

When I get bored of that pattern, I’ll change it up. It’s not like I have a SHORTAGE of possible dailies I could be doing.

The quest for Chuka and Champawat followed the same idea.

Here’s a long term project that you’ve decided is your goal, here’s your customised quest list to go get the materials you want. Direction. Focus. Narrowing down of options amidst a sea of possibles.

Yesterday though, that quest came to an end.

The let’s-make-it-a-big-deal UI screen. Somewhat gratifying, yes.

I was a -little- confused when the shortbow disappeared from my inventory. After a bit of panicked searching, I eventually figured out that it auto-added to my legendary armory, because gen 2 legendaries are account-bound.

Ah well. Okay, then.

Is it weird that I would have liked to have a tangible virtual icon to play around with for a moment, before I selected the Add to Legendary Armory option? Simply because the whole process of legendary making is so involved, it ought to result in a simulated object?

The overly smart “let me shortcut that process for you” caught me off-guard for a bit.

Regardless, all my shortbow wielding characters now have a black, red and gold tiger bow that can swap stats at will. So that’s nice.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have this mental post-it note that I might want to bring the ranger out again to make my beginner way through PvP or WvW roaming.

A little more front-and-center was the thought of getting the hang of the revenant/renegade/herald what-have-you fancy schmancy “new” heavy armor class that I barely understand.

Condi renegade is apparently quite a thing, though it takes a while to ramp up and I don’t know if I’ll ever learn, let alone master, the optimised dps rotation. But taking it for a spin in the open world, and learning each skill slowly, over time? Yeah, maybe. Could be fun. Shiny new shortbow was one of those steps towards that project.

Turns out, it’s a little more involved than that.

I have heavy legendary armor, so gearing up that part was quite easy. The shortbow covered one weapon set. I had an older legendary axe that covered half of the other weapon set. Mace? Er. Nope, no legendary maces here. So I yanked out an ascended one left over from raid drops and committed it to Viper stats for good.

Trinkets though. Urgh. Legendary trinkets are on the to-do list. Digging through the horrible mess that is my banked storage for ascended trinkets is not a project I particularly enjoy. Committing ascended trinket stats is hard. I always worry that I won’t have enough for a particular need if I make too many of one type or another. At present, I have a really weak grasp / overview of all my characters and what they’re equipped with and what they need, and I don’t really feel like sitting down to organize them all.

For now, the shortcut was that I flung some spare celestial stat Ascended trinkets onto the poor chap (still missing half of them) and took it out for a very casual spin.

It’s not bad. Quite fun, actually, even though I’m pretty much only spamming shortbow skills at the moment, having nothing more in my brain capacity to learn the other bits as yet. Those can come later. We all start somewhere.

Runes? Sigils? Nope, still yet to be equipped. Traits? Barely any, enough to flip over into renegade, is about it. I still have to bring him hero pointing for enough points to finish off all the revenant traits.

Long story short, from one goal of “get legendary shortbow,” it’s morphed into three additional goals:

  1. Get enough hero points to get full traits for the renegade
  2. Figure out some kind of solution for the renegade’s trinkets (wait for legendary trinkets? assess my ascended trinket inventory and what I can afford? Use some random stopgap stats that I already own?)
  3. Put runes and sigils on the renegade

Oh, you multi-headed goal hydra, you.

Then again, I’m in the throes of post-legendary “I’m broke and poor now” syndrome.

Legendaries eat up an enormous amount of banked resources. More than 500g of mystic coins? Wiped out. Every last T6 trophy I own? Gone. 500 T5 trophies of each type are also consumed, so even that most populous category is at dangerously low levels.

I broke into the gold bank to buy the components to mystic forge my remaining amalgamated gemstones, so I need to re-top it up to the tune of 110g or so. (I also wiped out 400g of spending money on the Dreamthistle skin collection – something I was waiting for literal years to come back into circulation so that prices lowered.)

All in all, that adds up to one of those over-arcing back-of-the-mind goals of play more GW2 and keep accruing all the things because -everything- needs restocking.

Problem is, where do I even start?

It’s not a new problem. Plenty of GW2 newbies run headlong into this and simply shut down. They can’t process the overwhelming number of things they -could- be doing with their game time, and get caught up in choice paralysis, ending up doing none of them and backing away from the game instead.

Regular GW2 players will keep harping on the fact that learning how to make these decisions is a vital player skill for thriving in GW2’s open smorgasbord of gameplay activities.

It’s not like the developers don’t try to help narrow this down for players from time to time. Sometimes there are festivals, or over-arcing events like world boss tour or added rewards in WvW week and so on. So there’s a pretty big nudge in the direction of current events.

Then the developers had the brainwave of re-cycling Living World episodes (themselves over-arcing events that drew focus at the time of their release) and creating new achievements to point the way to visiting a particular zone for a week. Hence all the “Return To _____” achievements lately.

Oh, how nice, a guide list for things you might want to do in the Sandswept Isles.

In order to ensure that people who aren’t logged in for a period of time don’t miss out, they leave the Return to achievement tabs available for all time, so that any returning players can get caught up on them later, at leisure. (Though some group stuff might be a little more difficult to accomplish, the long tail of trailing players means a certain level of activity is still likely in the older zones.)

At what point though, I wonder, does this list start to look like the Dailies tab?

That’s getting to be quite a LONG bulleted list. And long bulleted lists veer towards scary and overwhelming territory.

Sure, you could just pick one tab at random to complete and ignore all the others till done, and get through all of them in a sequential fashion that way. It’s doable. It’s decision-making. Of a sort. Certainly has focus and direction. May not be -optimal- though.

Min-maxers might want to do a bit more strategizing. Look at all the stuff they have yet to complete. Get a bigger picture. Try to organize like goals together and do them all at once. Layer overlapping goals so that everything that needs to be done in one zone gets done, before moving on to the next, and so on. That sort of thing.

The part that has finally broken MY mind, somewhat, is the onset of the Festival of the Four Winds.

Oh look, here’s a festival ON TOP of your Return To content, as well as your dailies, if you are so inclined.

You know, as a vet, I’ve already finished the three tabs above this one, so I don’t have to worry about it. One wonders how the new players deal.

The festival lasts 21 days, so yeah, there’s plenty of time. The annual stuff is easily done in a couple of days. Forever in the back of my mind though, for the next three weeks, is going to be some FOMO that if I’m not farming champion bags in Boss Blitz, I’m losing out. Or at least, incurring some serious opportunity cost. *sighs*

That opportunity cost is likely going to have to be incurred, because I have a serious amount of leftover Return To achievement tabs I want to get cracking on.

The most onerous part of each tab has been the story episodes.

I mean, I could replay them all in a supremely focused fashion by taking my main through each required story instance, but that would mean zero rewards beyond getting an achievement ticked and getting it done as fast as humanly possible.

I thought it might be nice to take a new character through the story, in a sort of story marathon to experience the story uninterrupted by months and years of development time in between updates, and earn rewards and unlock story chapters and stuff at the same time.

Thing is, I vastly underestimated just how lengthy and meandering these story instances have been.

My enthusiasm for re-experiencing the story started to dry up as the NPCs talked at each other for 5 minutes or longer each instance, before progressing on to the next scripted step, that produced even more talking, until maybe there would be a quick fight (utterly destroyed by a power-creeped spin-to-win reaper shroud) and then even more talking. Oh, and a gimmick fight or two which takes FOREVER in contrast to slowly solo mechanics, in contrast with the reaper’s overpowered AoE.

When you start playing songs in Youtube in the other window and hoping the scripted NPCs will start moving, you know you’ve quite lost it with any pretense of keeping up with the story.

It doesn’t help that there have always been issues with GW2 storylines.

Some of it seems to be grand plans derailed by having four different teams take on conveying different parts of the story. Some of it seems to be horrible characterization as produced by writing committee. Some of it seems to be shoehorned-in excuses for stuff that needs to happen plot-wise because we have certain level designs and maps and things we need to hit somehow.

Taimi can be a competent and bratty progeny in most scenes, but then suddenly turn into a wailing freaked out human girl cosplaying as tiny asura because the PLOT needed her to get in trouble and be rescued by the Commander.

We need Marjory to become a greatsword reaper and sell a samurai sword gemstore skin, so let us create a new baby sister (with samurai sword) for Marjory, kill her off abruptly in the next couple of story chapters, then bring her back as a ghost to magically charge up the greatsword skin, which Marjory will now use. Can I have some instant grief on tap for Marjory please? Thanks!

Yo, this egg needs to exit stage left, because the Commander can’t have it until they buy the Heart of Thorns expansion. And we need to hint that the sylvari are all going nuts because Plant and Mind dragon. I know, let’s have Caithe just grab it and go. Cos reasons.

Apparently we wanted to do something with the Nightmare Court, except later it will make no sense at all because it got cut during HoT development. But let’s zoom in for now close onto Caithe’s and Faolain’s relationship and backstory… except the relationship reads like an adult man trying to write two female teenagers calling each other sweet nothings… and one of the females acts like the world’s most gaslighty, illogically manipulative villainess, ordering people around and making demands of everyone. So… why exactly was Caithe in love with this person again? And so willing to do as she asked? Now that’s a mystery that could have used some storytelling… which we never get answered.

Eventually, I got whacked with a revelation.

GW2’s story suffers the same problem as its dailies as its achievements.

It’s doing too much. It’s carrying too much content. A multi-headed hydra of tangled plot threads.

No wonder players are overwhelmed. It lacks straightforward simplicity.

Nor do things tie together very well. It’s just a random assortment of stuff that happens. Braham has the world’s largest series of young person mood swings until he finally mutates into… well. something else.

Let’s make a charr warrior enact a Foefire Cleansing ritual with no prior research on exactly how this might work, and with all the expertise of a group of kids leaning over an Ouija board, so he can randomly generate a portal to the Mists and disappear inside to become a revenant, because marketing wants him in shiny black revenant heavy armor.

In the meantime, Rytlock can also pull double duty unseen in the background and release the Big Bad of our new expansion. because you know, we need a villain other than Elder Dragons, and gods might conceivably oppose Elder Dragons, and which god can we recruit for the Plot? Ah yes, someone who conveniently likes fighting, war, and fire, so he and his faction will look pretty cool. Because we don’t like any explanations at all, until we can retcon everything properly once the expansion is finally done, Rytlock will refuse to answer any questions about his experience in the Mists until we’re done figuring out what happened to him exactly.

Yea, well. K, whatever.

I’ve given up hoping it’ll make sense one day.

I’ll have way better luck just organizing my story to-dos for the sake of the chievos.

Which I did. In one night. Because I was sick of going through story mission after mission, seemingly without end.

Not knowing the full scope of it made it hard to grasp when it would ever be done.

This is much better. The stuff in bold are the missions that actually tick off the achievements for the Return To tabs.

I could see at a glance that I actually just have 6 episode chunks to go. One can probably plow through each chunk in 1-2 days. So suddenly from never-ending labor, the task scope becomes 12 days of effort, at max. Probably shorter.

I could also prioritize these chunks in a different order from sequential narrative order.

Living Story Season 2 has smaller number of story missions (though they tend to be very LENGTHY ones) and are almost done, so I could finish those off.

Living Story Season 3 is annoying because there’s a lot of story missions and only the first and last tend to count. I could put it off, or give up and just shortcut the process with my main. We’ll think about it.

Living Story Season 4 episode 2 is the current week’s episode, so it makes sense to do that first, once LS2 is done, so that I can get cranking on the current events and benefit from group interest while it’s there – like group bounties and so on.

We’ll get the story stuff done first, then clean up on the other achievements, and only then maybe we’ll have mental space for taking on and organizing the legendary trinket long-term project goals.

So it goes.

Guild Wars 2 drowns you in stuff you -could- be doing, if you wanted to.

And it’s on you to figure out if you want to, and where to even get started.

Could it be better? Possibly.

Are you going to wait until someone else makes it better for you? You’ll probably be waiting quite a while.

If you want it now, it’s on you to figure out how.

GW2: Return To …

I stopped habitually playing Guild Wars 2 some time late last year in November.

I’d reached a point where I was no longer just feeling disappointed and dead inside (with the company, with the community, with the gameplay) and had crossed over into a burnout state of “Why am I still clinging on and attempting to accrue or maintain stuff – resources, social networks, etc. in a game potentially nearing the end of its effective lifespan? And feeling terrible about it, to boot.”

(Effective lifespan in this case meaning that the game might still very well technically live on for another decade or more, but a) the amount of effort the company puts in is not the same, aka more maintenance mode, and b) personal interest in continuing with the game for another decade has taken an interest nosedive to near zero.)

Walking away and resetting was a necessary thing.

In the intervening time, a number of things happened. Colin Johanson found his way back to ArenaNet. They actually picked up the communication somewhat. The End of Dragons expansion was announced. The Legendary Armory actually became reality. The Twisted Marionette showed up. Living Story episodes were being given away free to any who logged in during a particular week for the “Return to _____” mini-event weeks. There was a short beta test for a few of the elite specializations of the next expansion.

It’s not at the level of hype. It’s probably not even at the level of hope. But it certainly registers on the positive side of the scale, rather than the negative.

I poked my head back in during the Twisted Marionette, to discover that I did still enjoy the character animations (especially harvesting – an activity that has been driven into non-profitability by rampant teleporting bots underneath the map, fml) and felt neutral to positively nostalgic about pop-in, pop-out public map metas.

I’d intended to leave things as is and maybe check things out again with the launch of the new expansion – something I wasn’t 100% sure I would buy immediately yet – but somehow, some time mid-August, I’d temporarily dried up on other game goals and my brain began chanting “Chuka and Champawat, Chuka and Champawat” as a potential medium to long term project.

This, for people not in the know, is a legendary Longbow themed around tigers.

It’s been sitting in the back of my mind as one of those legendaries I’d like to have, if I ever got in the mood to make another.

It was tempting to use that medium to long term project as an excuse to look back into Guild Wars 2 and putter around with its various activities, earning stuff towards a legendary, while evaluating how I felt about the old game in 2021. Just revisit “things I’d vaguely wanted to do” but never had the free time for, and before the game shut down on me one day, with the positive motivator of itty bitty progress steps.

Chuka and Champawat is a generation 2 legendary, meaning that it dates to the Heart of Thorns era and is, shall we say, a little more -involved– to craft than a gen 1 legendary.

Coincidentally, someone posted the full Chuka and Champawat crafting list on Reddit today:

Well, yeah, it’s fully expanded and thus a -little- exaggerated.

If I used that list, I would cry and not even get started.

As mentioned in the comments of Naithin’s Extracting Value Fr- SQUIRREL! post, when I get into one of these extended project moods, I break out the spreadsheets. Usually Excel, but I was curious about Notion and decided to give it a try.

The act of creating a list for oneself helps to clarify in one’s own mind what is still needed, and how one is going to get it. There’s plenty of wiki referencing and self-brainstorming as to potential alternatives and what costs the least or is the least painful.

The trick is, as I mentioned in one Reddit advice post or another, is to revise one’s mindset.

Legendaries are not built in days, and probably not weeks (unless you’re rich, or willing to swipe some credit cards.) One has to treat each step of a legendary as potentially a whole quest chain in itself, which may take days to complete.

What one can do, however, instead of doing each one sequentially, is to overlap related items or time gated items, so that progress is made daily on multiple fronts. The only way to know which these are, is to really look at the whole list and know what’s there to be done.

One simple example is mystic clovers and trophies. The act of gaining mystic clovers (if you’re going to mystic forge them) is likely to net you some T6 trophies. So mystic clovers first, before thinking about how many trophies you need.

Trophies themselves (claws, fangs, bloods, totems, scales, etc.) are all related items. They expand out into a scary sizeable list, but they’re all obtained in similar ways. You can patiently grind particular mobs for them (something that may take multiple hours across days). You can buy them outright with gold from the TP, or you potentially pick up cheaper lower tier trophies and mystic forge them up to higher tiers. You can grind certain living world currencies to buy chests and bundles that -may- pop the trophies needed. You can just play the game and wait for them to drop in the normal course of play. Some methods are faster, some are slower. Some are cheaper and some will segue into the secondary goal of “I need so much gold. How do I get gold?”

See, mini-secondary goals were basically what I was looking for, as a potentially returning player.

Guild Wars 2, as a horizontal progression game, is FILLED with way too many things one could be doing at any turn. A little bit of help focusing and a direction to follow is appreciated when one is lost and overwhelmed.

The same applies to those “Return To ______” area events. Easy short term goals. Harvest 30 wood from some nodes in a zone is a great micro-goal. In so doing, it gets you into said zone. Once you’re there, you’re bound to get distracted by some dynamic event that pops up around you. (And it’s another micro-goal too, so yay.)

Slowly, steadily, that’s how I ended up back into a semi-regular routine of tapas GW2.

Oh, I need Heart of Thorns currencies for this part of the legendary. Cue the next couple of days revisiting the Heart of Thorns maps doing pre-meta events that I hadn’t touched in forever.

I’d overlaid another “might want to do” goal on top of that, which was wander around and learn how to play a new elite spec (reaper) in a low stress environment.

Yes, solo play in HoT zones is low stress for me. Group play trying to remember ideal rotations and reach peak dps, on the other hand, spikes my blood pressure.

Said character had never been in the Heart of Thorns maps, so map completion was also another potential chase goal.

Then, of course, since you’re already doing the pre-meta events, surely you’re not wandering off when the ACTUAL map meta starts, right?

Chuka and Champawat is one of those rare legendaries that is well known for its nifty nod to storytelling in its collection steps that build up to gaining the precursor Tigris, shown in the image above. A darker, not so shiny version of its red-and-gold legendary.

There are some man-slaying tigers you hunt down (the aforementioned Chuka and Champawat) and a developing story where you discover the subsequent consequences of that action. It’s involved, and it takes you around plenty of locations in Tyria visiting less known areas and dynamic events.

(Though if I never again have to rescue a bunch of fern hounds for a pair of lovebird sylvari, it won’t be too soon. No one ever does the event, and it needs to be done before the NPC deigns to talk to you, and you visit her THREE times to progress the collection steps.)

Some jumping puzzles also get visited as part of those collection steps. Ditto some world bosses. Some map metas.

Heck, I even found myself visiting fractals. *shudders* Group play, as I mentioned, is something I’ve been presently loathe to deal with. Conveniently though, scourge has been buffed with new torment, and I was always curious whether I could solo certain easy Tier 1 fractals. Turns out, yes, all the fractals the Chuka and Champawat collection requires were indeed, eventually, soloable, with a little patience and some experimental death. (Cliffside, ugh.)

After all, repeated experimental death when you’re alone is easy and low stress. It’s dying in a group that’s embarrassing and unpleasant and anxiety-laden.

Slowly, steadily, I started to remember the positive things I liked about GW2.

The freedom to wander across various landscapes, leaping and bouncing and swooping and helicoptering with different mounts. The meditative harvesting of node after node and killing various fauna along the way. Being able to turn and jump freely into a nearby dynamic event that just popped up and seeing a collective of other players (from a few newbies to a zerg for the popular maps) show up as well.

Checking the time and deciding to attend some map meta or world boss or another, sliding into the map with nary a stopping point by jumping into some LFG squad and joining said map instance. Jumping right out again, or just stopping in a corner for a while when one needs to go AFK or attend to something else for a bit.

For a day, I even started wistfully missing the camaraderie of regular raids, the cadence of cycling skills on a mob with somewhat more hitpoints that can withstand the onslaught, the nostalgic sense of friends and compatriots and good times long past and “I wonder where they all are now.”

It wasn’t all rainbows and roses, of course.

There was the time I joined some Path of Fire bounty or another and the LAG that hit was so intense I had flashbacks of every stress-laden incident where my network would go on the fritz and disconnect – right in the middle of scheduled raids. A reprise of group obligations, helpless guilt and frustration at these worthless servers and this hopelessly inept company that one has zero expectations that they will ever get their act together, all compressed into a hot minute of bitterness and anger.

That certainly killed part of the nostalgia towards considering scheduled group content. It’s not fun if things aren’t reliable and don’t work well.

Strike missions were a bit of a mixed bag. I tried three easy ones, just to see if I still had it, after all this time, or if I was hopelessly behind. I knew my dragonhunter build was, for sure, not updated since forever. Performance wasn’t horrible – 2nd-4th in dps, aka not the worst of the lot. Things can only get better if I decided to spruce things up; yet at least one can still sneak into these things and not look 100% awful. I didn’t feel terrible after the strike, which is good, but I didn’t feel anything good either. Just felt… mostly nothing. I suppose developing any positive feelings about it is a longer term project for another day, if ever.

Then we had this week’s Return to Daybreak, where we’re revisiting the Domain of Istan.

And lo and behold, there are old Daybreak bounties that are simply not registering at all, even though one has killed them a dozen times now. Apparently, this bug has been there since the Domain of Istan was first introduced.

*sighs* Color me unsurprised. I mean, this is the company that duplicated their “Committed” title for two instances – the recent 9th birthday and an existing raid achievement – and only figured it out when players actually hit the 9th birthday on their characters this month. Leave an old bug forever unfixed? Very much par for the course for ArenaNet. Then call attention to it by having a Return to ____ event and -then- find out that it’s broken? Peak ArenaNet, no?

What’s the point of enjoying a mini-game of fill in the achievement checklists… when the checklists itself won’t check? And no one realizes until the players report issues?

Times like this, one starts to reconsider the wisdom of investing -too- much time and effort into a particular game.

Lowered to no expectations mean you can never be disappointed.

For the moment, while it still pleases you, go ahead and strive to make Chuka and Champawat, because it’s something you’ve decided you’d like to do. For now.

When it stops being fun, then I hope you figure it out soon and know how to stop as well.

Here We Go Round the Grindberry Bush

You’d think I’d learn by now.

I don’t know why I even try to expect consistency from myself.

Not a few days after changing my blog layout to favor bigger pictures, in the expectation that I might be playing more simulation style games with lovely scenery like theHunter or new games where screenshots would help to illustrate the experience, I have suddenly decided that NOW is the perfect time to re-focus on the same old games and make a concentrated push for long term goal projects.

This mostly means that I’ve traded off staring nightly at stuff that looks like this:


To this:


Well, in the case of Warframe, I know why.

At the end of April, they announced the Prime Vault was unsealing to make Loki Prime earnable once more, as well as Volt Prime.

I have neither of them and I’ve been enjoying the basic Loki’s invisibility for certain missions of late, so this was very motivating for me to declare “farm relics to get the unvaulted primes” as a long term goal until July 3 or done (Preferably done way before that final vault sealing date.)

The less fantastic news is that relic farming is always intentionally grindy.

So I thought I may as well stretch it into a long term project rather than burn out attempting to farm 12 hours without stopping the first few days. (Yeah, right, who has that kind of game time any more? Dang college students/unemployed/retirees.)

I guess these things come in cycles.

Having indulged the inner Explorer for a couple months, now the inner Achiever demanded to be let out to do its thing.

The problem with the inner Achiever (or at least with mine) is its intense desire to have whatever it’s aiming for -now-, stat, with very little clue about just precisely how it’s going to get there and very little tolerance for how long the whole process will take.

I get very very antsy.

In my befuddled brain that is the usual state of affairs, it tends to imagine that whatever it wants will somehow magically be presented to it, if it thinks about it hard enough, repeatedly enough, and keeps chasing after it like an overenthusiastic dog.

Project planning is a skill I seem to have largely missed the boat on.

Traditional project planning, much like traditional outlining, has never worked for me.

In the old days, it was pretty much do it that waterfall way or the highway, and I usually just opted for careening down the expressway flying by the seat of my pants and winging it by dealing with the loudest and most urgent thing and proceeding from there via subconscious guilt and nagging brain prompts.

In this enlightened Internet day and age, there are apparently more options than the two extremes, as consultants and professionals attempt to describe what the more average folks -actually- do to get by in their day to day lives, and then give it shiny new names and a marketing buff and polish to sell the technique back to us.

One such methodology that I randomly stumbled across is the Improvement Kata, something purportedly based on what Toyota’s management culture practices.

Beyond the business speak and filler for packaging into a format that can be sold as training to corporations, it seems to be based on a core common sense (which is never very common) concept of iteration.

  1. Have a direction that you want to head towards, and an idea of the challenge you’ll need to overcome
  2. Have an idea of where you currently are
  3. Define a reachable “next target”
  4. Experiment your way from 2 to 3
  5. Repeat 2-4 until you reach 1, if ever

Besides the useful and common concept of breaking down your goal into smaller realistically achievable parts, I really like what Improvement Kata brought to step 4, where it is explicitly diagrammed as not a straight linear path, but a series of winding experimental steps where the path zigzags

This helps to assuage my perfectionist mind that it is okay to have backward progress or sidetreks in the course of attaining the target.

That like Edison’s light bulb, you may have to try a whole bunch of different things, fail, realise and learn what -doesn’t- work, in order to finally hit upon something that -does-.

That chasing up side avenues is fine.

That whatever gets you motivated to just keep making starts is good, you’ll learn more as you experiment your way forward.

That it’s more important to just check in now and then on where you are, on what you’ve learned since the last check-in and to keep refining those plans based on what you know now until you get where you want to go.

I tried out the practice on the Relic Farming project.

1. Overall Big Picture Target – Own Loki Prime, Volt Prime and maybe Odonata Prime

2. Where Am I Now – originally nothing; now, see below


I am almost there on Loki Prime, just missing the rarest and most annoying to obtain component. I got lucky cracking open relics, so I’m a little further along on Volt Prime than I’d dared to hope. No progress on Odonata, but that’s fine as it is the least priority.

3. Next Target – Loki Prime Systems

4. Experiment

Experiment-wise, I’d already conducted a bunch in the previous week to find out the best sources of relics and what tools I had at my disposal to obtain them, given my quirky limitations of preferring to solo, not wishing to buy stuff outright with platinum and being more limited than a max MR player

Several false starts and some time measurements later, it has boiled down to running through Void, Marduk – Sabotage with a Loki at my very average and not extremely fast pace of ~5min per mission to have a 6% chance of popping the correct Axi L4 relic.

I am collecting a great deal of other relics in the progress.

When bored of the former, the secondary fallback is that I can also do a Void, Mot – Survival up to 20 min for a 13% chance at the Axi L4 relic with a Nidus.

But survival with void enemies doing 4x more damage and needing to stay for an uninterrupted 20 minutes tends to be a little more nailbiting than running around mostly invisible.

So I wind up by preference going for 4 chances of 6%, as opposed to 1 chance of 13% to get what I want.

Is that better? If I remember my math classes more, I could probably figure it out.

(My hunch says: the combined probability of -not- getting the relic I want each time is 94%, multiplied by itself 4 times. So 0.94 x 0.94 x 0.94 x 0.94 = 0.78. So the chance I might have popped the relic after 4 goes is 1 – 0.78 = 22%?)

Dunno. I await someone better at math to correct me. Intuitively, it kinda feels better, so we’ll run with that for now.

You’d think that project is sufficient to keep me occupied for the present, but between ArenaNet’s slightly improved communication and the anticipated release of the final Living Story 4 episode, my attention has been somewhat drawn back to GW2.

Not to insinuate that the game is some sort of many-armed monster, but… maybe.

To be honest, my relationship with GW2 was in a very bad place at the beginning of the year.

Some of the words that easily came to mind were “frustrated” “bored out of my skull” “burnt out” and “pushed beyond tolerance at the change in community sentiment.”

(Call me paranoid, but I rather suspect that similar emotions were running through a number of ArenaNet staff pre-layoffs.)

I just hadn’t reached a “quitting” frame of mind yet.

I was just stuck in a weird limbo of “I still kinda like the game, but I don’t like where it is nor where it seems to be going.”

Eventually, I decided that I’d delay reacting to it and give ArenaNet sufficient time to get their last few story episodes out and reassess what I felt about GW2 in April-May.

I guess I’m finally getting a little smarter with age and figuring out that delaying decisions can sometimes be a way forward.

The ArenaNet layoffs seem to have been a wakeup boot for the company. Not a great thing to happen to anyone, but making lemonade out of lemons is about the best one can do with a bad situation. Communication has stepped up a little (possibly due to certain policy makers voluntarily leaving). It’s a fire under them that forces a re-focus on what they’re trying to achieve with GW2.

From a steadily dropping and close to zero percent confidence level in the future of GW2 pre-layoffs and pre-communication, it at least feels like there’s a 35% chance now that there might be somewhat interesting future things for GW2. (Note: I’m a cynical pessimistic person by nature, so these are pretty decent numbers for my skewed viewpoint.)

Pursuant to figuring out how I will feel about the whole GW2 franchise once Living Story 4 draws to a conclusion, it occurred to me that regardless of me quitting or continuing, I should finish some of the long term goals that I always wanted to complete.

The biggest bugbear on that Unfinished Tasks list was Legendary Medium armor.

It is with some irony that I note that the raids part of it was completed long ago and by no means a bottleneck.

It was more a lack of motivation due to it being ugly as sin (and that’s giving sin a bad name), and the eternal time-gated nuisance of faction provisioner tokens which requires serious organized diligence to remember to feed various NPCs daily with the required objects for weeks on end. 25 days if you’re rich and go for 12 tokens a day, and for cheapskates like me, 42 days going at a 7 token a day pace.

That and the crippling cost of helping to sink a shipload of crafting materials by buying them with gold from other players.

Hence the spreadsheet, keeping track of what I have and still need:


The Step 4: Experiment stage of this has been surprisingly more entertaining than first anticipated.

Mostly because my miserly soul refuses to buy outright expensive things off the TP if there’s another way I can obtain them at a decent enough clip.

I’m time gated by provisioner tokens anyway, so it’ll be early June before I can be done.

The question is: what activities can get me more of what I need?


The various experiments in answering that have led me to do long ignored HoT metas, chase down the Winterberry farm once more for Unbound Magic to open bundles to see if their contents were worth anything, and learn more intently about the Living Story 4 maps that contain Volatile Magic as a reward, as those can be exchanged for trophy shipments.

It’s gotten my not-quite-raider self out of closed instances with my ego continually frayed by ever-excessively competitive people (not that it’s wrong, but type As exhaust everyone else around them – especially when they decide type B aren’t worthy of respect, or would be better off dragged up the mountain and would appreciate it once they see the view at the top)

Cartoon taken from

and back out into the open world where things are either slightly more chill, or where I can solo in peace.

I finished most of the crafting and mystic forging. I ran through a HoT meta or two and picked up most of the tokens I’d need.

I bought stuff I’m not likely to be able to farm for myself in good time from the TP.

My timing is terrible, as the legendary greatsword is coming and prices are no doubt rising in response already. I rationalized it by my supposition that prices will rise and stay high for at least the next month once the legendary launches and everyone realizes they need the stuff I also need for legendary armor, so I may as well get what I need now for peace of mind, and any extras I earn I can sell at the presumably more inflated price later.

The last step is T5 and T6 trophies. They’re in sync because there’s two major ways I figure I’ll get them.

One is mystic forge promotion. I buy the T5 and then convert them on my own penny crystalline dust and spirit shard-wise for T6. That economy is generally sensitive enough that it should always be somewhat cheaper to do so than buy the T6 outright, barring a sudden glut of T6 drops from some event or another.

The second is volatile magic converted into trophy shipments. The return seems to be fairly decent. So I’ve been all over the LS4 maps harvesting nodes, killing stuff, doing hearts, buying daily stuff off vendors, collecting glowy magic objects on mounts, doing dailies, doing metas and trying to figure out if anything gives a decent return and is hopefully more personally interesting to me than doing a million Great Hall/Palawadan meta cycles.

It’s still pretty grindy though.

In that I’m repetitively doing a whole lot of things mostly to get the end result. I’m not not enjoying it (if you can parse that.)

As in, it’s not something I would just do for fun (it takes a bit more focus than relaxation), and it’s not something I outright hate either (those I wouldn’t do. I decided to buy the fractal stuff I needed off the TP, all 140g of it, because I still loathe that game mode and the dislike deepens further with every new fractal I’ve never tried and ever-divided PUG scene. What’s gold for if not to trade with, right?)

It’s more a focused reason/excuse to repeat some things I might not repeat otherwise in order to get to a final goal.

In the repetition, I have a reason/excuse to actually be playing the game, and you know, it’s not half bad an activity to be doing.

…Hmm… Maybe I still sorta like this game after all.

It’s a strange kind of convoluted thinking that I haven’t quite got my head around yet, but it’s an improvement from -not liking- for sure.

We’ll see how things go from there.

The SAD Project – Day 2 – Predator Pew Pew


You probably guessed this one was coming.

I set up a bunch of buy orders for Tier 6 materials and the remaining orrian truffles last night.

When I next logged back in, everything was ready for the grand assemblage. Aka, clicking and dragging lots of materials out of hoarded storage, visiting some NPCs to buy one item or another with one currency or another, mystic forging some things and crafting some others with the correct alt that had 500 leatherworking or 500 huntsman.



That’s one shiny item icon.


I took it out for a spin.

Immediately, I was like, “Why has this NEVER come to my attention before?” “Why hasn’t anyone blown whistles and banged drums and made a immense furor to this world about this sweet sweet gun?”

You know what’s most striking about it?


(Disclaimer: Not my video. Pretty much the only one on Youtube that lets the rifle speak for itself without loads of commentary. And it’s amazing how many are dated from 2013-2015, with very few Predator videos after.)

It has a reverberating laser pew pew sound that at first seems a bit at odds with the looks of the sniper rifle, but sounds immensely epic in scope and befitting that of an item with legendary status.

The second awesome thing is the fiery projectile that comes out of the rifle. Besides looking awesome, it also lights mobs you shoot on fire, and they die with the special flaming death animation that the fiery dragon sword skin also produces.

In a way, it’s good that I didn’t realize this until -after- I made the legendary.

Because I’m not sure I would have been able to wait as long as I did, and would have spent a lot more money/effort chasing it.

All’s well that ends well. Everything got prioritized nicely, I’m now the happy owner of Rodgort, Kraitkin, a set of legendary heavy armor, and the Predator, and I feel like the tension of the last year or so with immensely long term goals hanging over my head has wound its way to a close.

I feel like I can close the book at the end of this GW2 chapter, so to speak, and just dabble or putter around with much shorter term goals that were being put off (e.g. various Living Story chievos, try to get into fractals -again-) and/or wander off to other games.

Sometime in the future, I intend to idly creep my way towards stuff like Astralaria, Chuka and Champawat, a set of legendary light armor and so on, but that is a long way off, so no need for any concrete plans as yet.

Plans are for the end stages, to kickstart myself into actually doing things (like put W, X, Y  and Z into the mystic forge and click buttons, which I’d otherwise put off).

For now, I’m happy to have no more long term plans or ambitions.

Blaugust Day 30: Raids… Crap, What Happens to Everything Else? (GW2)

This morning, I woke up with my mind buzzing from a certain amount of worry.

At first, it was just the expected personal problem of wondering how the hell I was going to fit my personal schedule around the concept of raiding in GW2… especially since I’m in the GMT+8 timezone, making essentially all NA and EU guilds verboten, and even OCE guilds start raids about two hours earlier than I can really afford to be present while holding down a job.

Especially since the intent was to make sure said 10-person group undergoes repeated headbanging failure before maybe succeeding, after a great deal of build tweaking and coordination and practice.

That means a relatively regular group is needed, no?

Then I started wondering about how TTS was going to handle the introduction of raids…

The habit has always been for about 90-120 people gather up for Karka Queen, Tequatl and Triple Trouble Wurm. That’s about the most OCE/SEA critical mass that can be pulled at any one point in time.

Would they do the same, then split them up into groups of ten?

But wait, there might be a problem of lack of organized leadership… which means the number of each potential group that can be formed shrinks…

…which means there’s going to be competition for the desired raid spots… and resultant ill-feeling if you don’t make it in… sorta like how the 160th person sulks if they can’t manage to get into a Triple Trouble map… (except that we almost never hit that kind of number with TT, and we’ll definitely exceed that with a ten person raid)

And what if a huge chunk of leaders decide that they are just going to go form their own specialized raid group instead…

…what happens to the inclusivity of the Teq/Triple Wurm schedule?

And then it hit me, and my commenter Athie also drilled down to the root of the problem, WAIT, NO ONE IS GOING TO GIVE A DAMN ABOUT TRIPLE WURM ANY LONGER.


Dungeons? Pfft.

Fractals? Fucking Ascended rings, right? And now reduced to one fractal each time. Meh, that’s for casuals.

Triple Trouble Wurm? A lame ass chance at Ascended armor with stats you probably won’t be able to use, and more likely, 5 lousy champion bags and some blues and greens.

EVERYTHING will be shoved aside, and the ALL IMPORTANT GODLY RAID will be placed on a pedestal of awe and desirability.

THAT is going to be a problem. The lack of any other alternative to get one’s mitts on Legendary armor, making raids highly desirable and causing everything else to fall by the wayside and look bad in comparison.

What’s going to happen to our friendly community guilds that welcome any influx of new players cos it means hitting critical mass then?

Torn apart, that’s what. You won’t want new players to learn the complicated raid dance if it sets your group back by weeks. You want the same regular group of 10, period. That forms exclusivity. That forms elitism if that pack of 10 gets all the shiny Legendary armor that no one else can get.

Now I have a sunken pit of dread in my stomach that isn’t going away.

I hope Athie’s right and GW2 makes a dramatic and unpredictable direction swing several months later, because the extrapolation from here is not looking good at all.