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: A Very Merry Leisurely Wintersday

Merry Wintersday One and All!

With Ascended Armor and multiple balance changes hitting us in the Dec 10 patch, not to mention two Living Story tabs of achievements, you might be forgiven for thinking that I’d go into some sort of OCD panic.

On the contrary, I feel rather relaxed and happy.

I’m sure the primary reason for this is the Living World 2013: Year in Review post, where we learn that:

a) The anticipated earthshaking story arc finale won’t hit us in December after all, but undergo at least one more month of polish and development time

b) The first update of 2014 won’t hit us until Jan 21

Yep, no Scarlet as the Grinch during Wintersday!\o/

What if... Scarlet was responsible for creating Ascended armor? (No, no, we're just not going there...)
What if… Scarlet was responsible for creating Ascended armor? (No, no, we’re just not going there…)

Furthermore, more polish on the updates can only be a good thing.

The storytelling of Queen’s Jubilee and Tower of Nightmares wasn’t -too- bad, for example, when they appeared to have time to lovingly polish stuff up, while the hack job of the Thaumanova story mode needs to be taken out the back and shot.

(If you actually do the fractal proper, there’s only Dessa’s voice for example, rather than an incoherent and unrecognizable chorus of altered speech.)

At least -try- to do the damn finale justice, eh?

Cinematic cutscenes are definitely a winner where storytelling is concerned.
Fer instance, cinematic cutscenes are definitely a winner where storytelling is concerned.

It would be a terrible letdown after stringing us along for a year if another hack job was done on the storytelling and narration.

The character snippets and knowledge-dropping in The Nightmare is Over aftermath aren’t too shabby though:

Quaggan thinks quaggan is in looOooOve! (dawwww)
Quaggan thinks quaggan is in looOooOve! (dawwww)

Also, I guess that means we have at very least three weeks and possibly up to six weeks to frolic in the Wintersday snow and deal with the aftermath of the tower collapse in Kessex Hills.

Which is a tremendously freeing thought.

The smorgasbord of activities that I could be doing in Guild Wars 2 has increased (Nightmare living story? Wintersday activities? Fractals? Dungeons? Tequatl? WvW? Work on an Ascended something? Experiment with new builds? Earn gold towards a gem shop luxury? Craft? Gather? Farm? Level a new character? Actually PvP for gold and rank?) but the time pressure has not correspondingly ramped up.

This is how I like my MMOs. Full of lateral progression options, so I won’t get bored of doing the same old one thing to death, but with stuff to do and no obligation to rush.

Oh, I’m sure certain hardcore fractal and WvW types are all about trying to eke out that tiny stat gain of advantage over others, and they might be feeling the pressure of all those slots to fill with Ascended stuff, but well, if that’s how they like to play the game, all power to them.

As long as it doesn’t become -necessary- for everyone else to do the same just to play the game. (I don’t think the culture will progress that far that fast, not until at least one more year has gone by.)

In fact, I’d say that where fractals and agony resistance is concerned – something I personally hate the concept of, incrementing a tiny stat that limits how high you can go – the addition of more slots has increased the options for how to get sufficient AR. Versatile simple infusions are cheap and go anywhere.

Fractal level being account bound finally allowed me to take my dungeon warrior into level 18+ fractals where my first badly built guardian bogged down. I finally crossed into the level 20 level range, where infusing rings for cheap and adding on further AR via all those +1 AR infusions that drop out of every fractal end chest was now another viable option.

I suppose I will get Ascended armor at some point, but probably later than sooner. I’m more of a fan of being flexible with multiple sets of exotic armor than pigeonholed into one role and build. But zerker heavy couldn’t hurt, given how many heavy armor classes I play.

To my surprise though, one month of salvaging nearly everything in my inventory in the search for magic find has granted sufficient gossamer and orichalcum to get my armorsmith up to 500 without -too- much expenditure.

I am now also sitting on strange stats like a set of Asssassin’s, Giver’s, and Celestial armor because I had extra T6 mats for those. I suppose since I have them now, it might be fun to experiment with them for a while to feel the stat differences firsthand. They can be salvaged later for dark matter, it’s not like they’re worth anything on the TP at the moment. Now just to figure out if I should try them out on a guardian or a warrior…

Whatever. These are month long goals. They don’t have to be rushed by tomorrow, or before the fortnight is out.

(I have a sob story about 11 days of fractals – some days double or triple runs – with no volcanic fractal to complete the Fractured Living Story tab. Only on the 12th day was RNG kind to me…)

It’s time to enjoy Wintersday.

five copper hilarity
Best five copper spent. Ever.
dolyak distraction
Dolyak clone distraction!

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.

GW2: Clockwork Conspiracies

Can’t stop to talk for long. Having way too much fun.

Spoilers do follow in the screenshots, but if you haven’t sampled the story by now, you’ve been missing out. Go log in, rather than read vicariously.

Closing Ceremony

unite

Storytelling just as well done as the opening. Moar of the same for future updates please.

Here’s some love for the cutscenes, including the stylized painterly interlude in the manner of the noir one.

Faren's hero moment, soon to be overtaken by the ubiquitous thought "those damn mesmers!"
Faren’s hero moment, soon to be overtaken by the ubiquitous curse of “those damn mesmers!”

Twisted Clockwork Faction

Words cannot describe how awesome these guys are.

dolyakvshorror

The aesthetics are like Necrons mixed with Cryx with a unique GW2 take on things, and the animations on these metallic monstrosities are the coolest ever.

I only wish I had the computing firepower to put graphics settings on medium or high in full on zerg situations, rather than stay at the lowest of the low in order not to crash. Even so, they’re still pretty good-looking.

twistednightmares

Mechanics-wise, I find them rather interesting, with a “downed” state of their own that mimics the need to finish opponents in pvp. Some specifically repair another type, so in theory, target prioritization is needed.

And I’m not sure, but it seems like if some of them reach a certain critical mass, they glom together to form a big twisted nightmare – I just haven’t observed specifically which enemies yet.

This should be interesting and meaningful later on if they ever make dungeons with the twisted clockwork faction in them. So far, the solo scaling allows one to take them out one at a time or all together, regardless of if you prioritize or not – one just endures a bit more delay if they do self-repair. And in zergs, it is also just as effective as to wipe them out in one fell sweep or let a few people do the finishing, similar to WvW.

Scarlet’s Playhouse Instance

Speaking of which, I’m really happy that they made a story instance that is both soloable and groupable according to preference.

Certain people will tell you that oh, it’s sooo much easier to solo because it scales, but I think they haven’t the patience to wait for a group to get the hang of the twisted clockwork faction mechanics together.

I did both.

I went through my first time solo, because I enjoy being a hero by myself, seeing the story and learning the mechanics unspoiled by others. I found the difficulty very reasonable, and appreciated that Scarlet so helpfully cued in her gimmicks at each stage. It was quite doable to survive long enough (hooray, no brutal one-shot instant deaths) to observe her animations and the surroundings and figure out the means to progress or do damage to her.

Then I grouped to see how reasonable the scaling was, and truth be told, I found it reasonable as well, though we did total party wipe a few times. Those deaths were more due to group coordination and some members being unfamiliar with the instance though.

Our first wipe took place when 1 member asked about the 3 min achievement and got no response yea or nay from the group. Seeing him rush for it, I followed suit. The other three hung back. As you can imagine, our cheerful efforts to extinguish fires rapidly produced monsters spawns the team was not prepared for in the least. Whoops. 🙂

notcommunicating

Ironically, our second go, when we started talking a lot more and decided to do things “slow and steady and no deaths,” we scored the 3 min rescue Faren achievement. Go figure.

Of course, that no death hope was rather dashed when we ran into the centaur section of the map and another party member rushed headlong into the first spawn they saw. *wry grin*

Any Guild Wars 1 player would have recognized that sort of movement of the spawns. PATROLS. It’s a TRAP! Dashing into the center where a bunch of patrols meet up? You know it. Splat went the first, then splat went the second who tried to revive. The others who hung back valiantly tried to hold off the multiple spawns rushing them, but yeah… scaling and twisted clockwork mechanics and all that.

When solo, I pulled the first two spawns methodically to kill ’em, just cos I like killing stuff, then evaded past the rest. I am sure you could run past them all, or stealth past as well, solo or group. Just…your group has to be all on the same page. 🙂

We had one more wipe in here, which I would label as unfamiliarity with how to handle twisted clockwork as a group. Some of us got breathed on by a horror, with those oh so fun stacks of confuse, which of course, produces downing in most not alert people. Then the whole repairing thing got away from us and we were suddenly facing TWO giant Twisted Nightmares of silver status. The survivors were doing a passable job sorta kinda ranging them, and I was getting a lot of practice in both quickly detargeting my scepter when the reflect shield came on (and evading the 2-3 stray blue balls that hit the shield before I detargeted) and side strafing the green projectiles it was shooting at me…

…just as I was thinking, oh hey, I’m getting the hang of this, even in pure berserker armor, the thing crept up with sufficient range to fire its flamethrower.

OW.

Fuck. I was not expecting that. Why does it have a flamethrower… Ow. How the hell do I dodge these? Healhealheal. This is not working…

Whoosh whoosh whoosh.

One flamebroiled charr to go.

And then there were two.

And one.

Then none.

The silver thingummies had collapsed into a pile by the time we got back from restarting at checkpoint, but yeah, I’m sure a group that actually had a cohesive plan to deal with them would have carved through ’em in no time flat. Or evaded them.

Difficulty-wise, I’d classify Molten Facility as harder, while not even mentioning how taxing Aetherblade Retreat can be. This is a short and sweet instance that won’t take a long time to run, solo or grouped, and I like it. It’s just right for temporary, seasonal content. And there are still one or two mechanic-based fights in there, rather than tank and spank.

Invasions

Doubly in love. It’s like Rift’s invasion/public quest system mixed with a side helping of GW2.

One of the most fun things for me is simply just running from one place to another together as a collective. Seriously, as long as your zerg is not too big, just toggle off your interface, leave yourself on autorun, turn the camera and look at yourself and the people running alongside you.

GW2’s run animations are awesome (or maybe that’s just me on a charr.) It’s like the Manifesto video all over again, but with yourself in the picture.

The multistage events building up to a climax are neat. Anet rapidly fixed the one minor nitpick of Scarlet having too little hp and dying too fast. I like that the whole zone has a shared goal and pretty much all actions do work towards that goal, map-chat complainants not withstanding.

Really, that’s the one eyesore of the event. I’ve had more fun switching tabs and ignoring map chat. A whole bunch of backseat commanders have sprung up and simply won’t shut up about how other people are not playing how they like.

Jeez, have a little trust in the wisdom of crowds, will you?

Yes, we get it, if everyone spreads out and takes down more dynamic events successfully, the counter will go down faster, we will get to scarlet faster, and defeat her for the best invasion complete loot and two rares if you haven’t defeated her already that day.

HOWEVER:

If we spread out too thin, and struggle at taking down dynamic events in tiny groups and being endlessly downed, then the counter is not going to go down any faster either.

Some people may also not feel the need to get to Scarlet any faster because we have 45 minutes to do the event, and if we complete it in 30min, what are you going to do, stand around and wait for the other half-hour before the next invasion?

Some people are also enjoying the roleplaying and world immersion aspect here – what, leave a bunch of Twisted Clockwork menaces to roam around Tyria just because you’re busy metagaming?

Some people just like killing anything red in front of them.

Some people have an AoE weapon that can’t HELP but damage anything red in front of them. (*hides guardian staff behind back*)

And yes, there is loot. Oh so glorious massive group scaling veteran and champions loot. Preferably from Aetherblades.

And why not? Why get in a tizzy about it? If you don’t like the zerg where it is, go form a group and stay away from the commander tags. Or go solo some events. They scale. Or get a commander tag of your own and see how many people want to follow you.

If you like zerging, then don’t feel guilty, just join the damn zerg and have fun. If you need to sell, go and sell. It’s okay, there are other people in the zone too.

It’s like WvW, really. All parties are needed. A strong zerg is an unignorable force. In invasions, a good zerg takes down each event in record time, mowing through a whole bunch of champions that both move the progress bar and yield loot. A fast way of moving the zerg to the next event is not to scream one’s head off and waste time typing when one could be attacking or tagging, but to just lawnmower down anything standing so that there’s nothing left and the rampaging horde has to look for new targets regardless. 🙂

Roamers, loners and soloists also can play their parts. There are some very easy scaling events (molten alliance tunneling machines come to mind) that can be handled and will also tick down the progress bar anyway. Zergs move and turn like oil tankers, they can only be in so many places at one time, you can pwn those events faster than you can break up the zerg or get the zerg to move somewhere.

And the zerg naturally breaks up and reforms after each event ends when some people waypoint to the next event they pick on a map, or decide to run instead to the next place, and so on.

Really. Every single invasion I’ve joined, save for the very first, has succeeded. Big zerg or no big zerg. To me, it actually seems harder to spread out too thinly.

Just trust in the wisdom of crowds and that the aggregate will get you there.

If you do fail the last stage, what’s the harm? You still get a partial reward at the end, and I think even the achievements increment.

And the invasions repeat every hour, on the hour. For 14 days. And they will continue at a less frequent pace after. One or two battles lost is not the end of the fucking world.

Invasion of steam creatures notwithstanding.
Invasion of steam creatures notwithstanding.

Oh, and I like the predictable timed nature of the invasions. It reminds me of the festival times in GW1 where you could log on and know that every hour, such-and-such would be happening. It helps one plan for it, in a way. Having some people left out is a sad but necessary consequence of such a schedule though.

Yeah, it’s a little disappointing if you miss the window and accidentally zone too late and get in an overflow where the invasion isn’t occurring. But I’m sure there’s other things you could be doing with the hour too.

And I agree it’s uber annoying if you should crash out and be unable to get back in again (I had that happen once when I ramped up my graphics too far) and it would be nice if they had a mechanism to hold one’s place for a while… but for the predictability of the hourly invasions, I’ll take it, warts and all.

It’s better than having a whole bunch of invasions fall out of sync with each other. *Thinks back to karka event where different overflows managed to start 45 minutes later than another*

Speaking of which, I really like the performance improvements between then and now. The karka event was one gigantic lagfest of doom, where skill lag made it took literally 5 minutes to see the result of one button press. I’ve not had any noticeable skill lag in these clockwork invasions, and the only hitch I’ve seen is a long noticeable delay on some Aetherblade waves spawning in a Gendarran Fields invasion.

The culling changes has also improved my framerates in zerg situations slightly, at the cost of me never seeing anybody else’s armor ever again, in WvW or PvE. Oh well. Your vanity is not that important to me, not until I can afford a better computer anyhow. 😛

With that sort of stuff fading into the background and not being noticeably annoying, it’s a lot easier to enjoy the flow of the invasions for what they were intended to be.

Pure unadulterated fun.

Just ignore the naysayers.

Conspiracy Theories

In the one invasion I sacrificed by being on medium graphic settings and awaiting the inevitable crash, I did luck into taking a screenshot of a steam portal at very close range. This was up in Dredgehaunt Cliffs and the event happened to be in a place with two different elevations, including one cliff high enough to look -down- into the portal.

steamportal

One can see steam pipes that look reminiscent of those in the Aetherblade jumping puzzle, and a railing of some sort that looks like the fairly standard sort you’d see in dredge facilities?

There’s some cube-like structures beyond that I won’t even begin to guess what they are.

threesylvari

And an unfortunately low-res Scarlet in comparison to the pictures of Faolain and Caithe stolen off the GW2 wiki. Three different sylvari?

The facial markings of all three -are- different if you google up a better resolution pic of Scarlet.

Then again, the nose is a little like Caithe’s in shape, but has Faolain’s scarring on the side. The eyes do have a resemblance to Faolain’s on the far edges, though they have this crazy yellow glow in the Playhouse instance that is different from the yellow-green in the cutscene. The skin tone is kinda like a mix of green and grey.

Faolain + Caithe = Alternate Reality Batshit Crazy?

GW2: Some Love For the Open World

We interrupt this irregularly scheduled focus on the Queen’s Jubilee to bring your attention to a very important discussion thread now taking place on the Guild Wars 2 forums.

Has Guild Wars 2 deviated from its originally stated Manifesto and stress on a Living, evolving world to bring us instead neatly packaged, themepark seasonal content in episodes?

We may disagree on some of the specifics, and the initial frustrated tone of his first few posts, but the original poster Fiontar makes a lot of important points throughout the thread that are well-worth reading through. A few choice quotes:

What should you have done? Well, you should have stuck to the original plan you talked about last fall and created boatloads of new Dynamic Event content. Content that would have advanced the story with in each game zone told by the Dynamic Events that were there at launch. Adapting some, replacing some, rotating some in and out of circulation. That would have created a Living World. that would have preserved the sense of a dynamic game environment. That would have shed the negative stereotypes about Theme Park MMOs.

If people appreciate the ways the game is departing from the Manifesto and prefer adventure by checklist over the great potential the game and the manifesto offered us, I’d be happy to hear about it. Maybe Anet just has a better finger on the pulse of the players and has decided that the Manifesto and the core game design were a mistake to be rectified.

It’s even produced a developer response and spawned a Reddit thread with some hyperbole in the title – “Dev says there is little player interest in adding more events, JPs, and mini-dungeons across the world.” Among other things, Anthony Ordon welcomed the continued feedback but pointed out the following:

The very first living world team actually did the thing some of you have called for. Some 40 or so permanent events were added around the game in our very first content update. They were met with little interest or fanfare. Granted, Halloween may have stolen the show. But those events are still in the game today. I’ve seen very little reaction to them, however, positive or negative.

Fiontar’s response to Anthony is Quote Post of the Day-worthy – if there is one link you click, this is the one. I cannot quote parts of it. It is too beautiful not to be read in its entirety.

Readers who follow my posts regularly will know that I have just finished leveling a necromancer to 80 during the tail end of the Cutthroat Politics update. I went back to basics with this one, systematically map exploring zone by zone, as well as genociding mobs in my way and even revisiting parts of the Personal Story (up to the Straits of Devastation where I hit 80, anyhow.)

In Fireheart Rise, I was just meandering along mining all the things when I suddenly got jumped by a Charr engineer with turrets on steroids. It was a crazy fight, involving lots of stray mobs and hiding behind boulders to avoid splash damage and desperately cursing a necromancer’s lack of dodges while trying to prolong one’s life with death shroud, downed, life drain something back to the world of the living, rinse and repeat. (My leveling gear was all power/precision for swift killing, y’know.)

In another corner of the map, some crazy Norn who seemed like a wererat and was like a mini version of Yanonka the Rat Wrangler with all the summoned rats ambushed me too.

I did notice that both of their Dynamic Events were labeled with Modus Sceleris and vaguely recalled a prior instance of encountering a guild group with this title and an elaborate three event chain fight while leveling the warrior alt. (Well, he had no problems with them and had a great time parading proudly in front of their guild as a prime specimen of Charr ferocity.)

It was the first time I actually encountered these two specific events though.

Did I enjoy them?

Yes.

Was it cool to have a novel experience while leveling that I’d never seen before?

Of course.

Did I specifically know whether they were new or old DEs and exactly -when- they were added?

Hell, no.

I’ve also told you all about the first time I encountered the Skritt thief in a chest.

It took Bhagpuss telling me in the comments that it was added in the Halloween update. I found it in February.

Since then, I’ve run into it a few times more, twice with a guild doing guild missions, which was great fun chasing it down together.

40 permanent events were added, you say? Great! But many players are simply going to run right past them without noticing them, and still less would be able to tell you if they were new.

If your metric of success is the number of players playing a particular aspect of the game, taking notice and commenting and providing feedback about it, then I suddenly understand why all the last updates have been full of festival fanfare and literally signposted and checklist content.

It’s problematic, yes. If a lot of developer effort goes into barely noticed dynamic event content, players may complain that there’s nothing happening, even when it’s going on right under their noses and things are changing around them.

But players notice when stuff is static too, and promptly abandon zones that are not rewarding and boring in the limited number of repeat DEs they’ve seen ad nauseam.

It’s hard to say who’s right. I love the idea of new stuff taking place, and things being different on a subsequent playthrough. Just the same, I hate the idea that we might lose some of the old stuff to make room for the new stuff.

You know me, I want my cake and to eat it too. I’d love for more possibilities to be layered on top of each other – grawl chain here, stampeding herd there, merchants having trouble with an avalanche squishing their dolyak and just generally the chance for more DEs to take place utilizing the same area.

A quick nod back to the Queen’s Jubilee. Having met my initial goal of defeating basic Liadri, I finally got the chance to venture out to the open world to work on the hot air balloon achievement.

At least, that’s what I originally thought I was going to do. Hit every map, run to balloon icon, click chest, collect loot, increment by 1 until done. Easy, methodical, that’s why I left it as one of the last things on my list.

To my immense surprise, amazement and delight (and okay, a little frustration from being roadblocked, by escort quests especially, yeeugh,) it wasn’t as simple as that.

Those balloon pilots sure are picky. The gates stubbornly remained closed as they pointed out they were under fire from that sinister airship over yonder, couldn’t leave until a way overdue emissary arrived, or invited all to test their mettle against a Queen’s Champion.

I’d like to echo what Ravious said about the balloon towers: They make sense. Their stories are intertwined with the ongoing event. And as a result, they’re pretty immersive.

(Yes, even the Overdue Emissary event which causes a metagame groan from me when I see how far that marker is from the balloon tower and how much longer it’s going to take to increment the number by 1 as a result.)

Without words, the story is told. "So -that's- why they're late," you think, as you come across the scene.
Without words, the story is told. “So -that’s- why they’re late,” you think, as you come across the scene.

One especially nice touch is how the event NPCs interact with the other NPCs in the vicinity. They fight each other. Yes, you are not the center of their world. Imagine that.

An Aetherblade Norn goes ice wurm hunting after a hard day's work beating up an emissary.
An Aetherblade Norn goes ice wurm hunting after a hard day’s work beating up an emissary.
Vicious rams join in the action. The same group was beating off some arctoduses when I arrived.
Vicious rams join in the action. The same group was beating off some wild arctoduses (arctodi? what is the plural of arctodus anyway?) when I arrived.

Even the emissaries are fairly rabid, and while it again produces a fourth wall-breaking sigh from one part of me that wishes they would just get with the program already, I’ve also exclaimed in-character at mangy Ash Legion charr representatives not to be distracted and to double time it, quick march to the balloon, stat.

Because when the event feels like a part of the world, you want to be a part of the world too.

I’ll leave you with one final thought, another quote from the thread which saves you from wading past naysayer eyesores who produce pithy Twitter pronouncements of “you suck” “learn to play” “you must have failed at something” “I liked it, can’t imagine why you couldn’t” without actually specifying any reasons for their different opinion:

From minbariguy:

I honesty feel that you guys need to focus more on putting the choice of when to play content back into the players’ hands.

Food for thought, indeed.