Rowan Blaze over at I Have Touched the Sky had a quick blog post up today, and linked an old post he wrote about “The Unholy Trinity.”
It was written more than five years ago, in a time when WoW was king and neither GW2 or SWTOR was even out yet. (Let alone TSW or FFXIV or Rift.)
I find it an interesting look back at how the holy trinity was commonly perceived then, tank/dps/heals, fixed roles, taunting, etc.
Harbinger Zero apparently even managed to suggest an alternative trinity of offense, control and support, which *ahem* sounds suspiciously close to GW2’s later proposal of damage/support/control.
Today, looking back at our current existing MMOs, beyond alternative trinities (or quadruples or multiplicities), we see overall more of a relaxation on how fixed or difficult it is to swap roles or specs, and the provision of possibilities for individual players to “feel heroic” by temporarily swapping role/functions to off-tank, off-heal, crowd control, battle rez, what-have-you…
…Perhaps as a genre, MMOs have progressed a little further than we realize. (Even if it’s slower than some of us like.)
Right off, I take to the Story Journal like a duck to water. Maybe it’s just Guild Wars 1 nostalgia, but for those of us used to the older game, story is supposed to come in chapter-like chunks in private instances where Randomname the Ranger and his mapchat spamming friends can’t interfere with one’s immersion and interaction with story NPCs.
Besides, this means other players can experience the story at their own pace and time, which is always good for encouraging others to join the game at any time and not feel like they’ve missed out forever and have nothing but the current seasonal content to do.
I did, however, write some general topic articles inspired by the communal productivity surrounding the Blaugust event:
MMOs are Dead, Long Live the Multiple MOGs – I get a terrifying amount of hits to this post to this very day. For whatever reason, there appears to be a lot of people either wishing for the death of MMOs or seeking confirmation to their demise or something… (Look, guys, just google “FPSes are dead” or “RTSes are dead” or “adventure games are dead,” you get the same stuff! Someone’s burned out and no longer interested in the genre, is all. It’s OKAY to change games. There’s no “till death do us part” vow involved.)
The end of August marks a bunch of shitstorms that enveloped the GW2 Reddit for a while, most of which I avoided commenting on, because I just couldn’t muster up any indignation one way or the other. Too damned busy actually playing games here (and woirking on a sekrit project.)
I did defend the New Player Experience, since I do think it smooths out the learning curve for the group of people that need direction (and there’s so -many- of them.) Whatever gets us more newbies attracted, then attached to the game is good! Even if they have to try it out multiple times before it finally clicks!
Call it my sneaky contribution to the new player experience.
I actually forget which post and which comment started it, but the gist was that it looked like a lot of players didn’t even know -why- they were stacking in corners or how to move appropriately to break line of sight and pull mobs if something went wrong at the beginning of their ‘stack here’ strat.
Probably no one had ever bothered to explain the basics to them, the very foundations of movement and positioning, and what things like ‘kiting’ or ‘LOS’ were. The stuff and jargon MMO regulars automatically know from prior games… except GW2 is meant to also attract people who have never played an MMO before.
How many will actually find it, or bother to read it? Don’t know, don’t really care. Can’t save ’em all. Still going to meet players in-game that’ll turn your hair white.
But at least it’s out there now… so individuals who do care about getting better might find it, or have the link shared with them by others who care to help them.
It hit 3,801 views in August, and has an average of ~500 views every month, so -somebody’s- reading it anyway. If it helps one person play better, t’was worth the effort. (And hey, shameless pageview accumulation is good for my blog and my ego!)
It takes a good part of the day to finally narrow down the troublemaker as the Creative X-Fi card that just decided out-of-the-blue no-driver-change-or-anything that it would hang the entire operating system. Repeatedly.
I eventually yank the entire card out after a week of intermittent troubles and fall back on the built-in Realtek audio on the motherboard.
October brought Bragtoberfest, the one blogging community event this year I managed to find sufficient time for proper participation, rather than just cheering from the sidelines.
I play a hefty helping of games that month, many in tandem with other people, who have all met online at a scheduled time expressly for the purpose of playing said game. This is a rather new and enjoyable experience for a grumpy hermit like me, even if I do lose some sleep over a couple of weekends and draw the line at Twitter. We play Strife, Path of Exile, Team Fortress 2 and Killing Floor.
Along the way, I’m chugging along in Minecraft and faithfully doing dailies in GW2, but there’s really nothing to write home about logging in for 15 minutes to do Daily Gatherer, Daily Laurel Vendor, Daily Kills and so on.
GW2 is cranked up to high settings and everything becomes eye candy. I go after FPS games that would have previously brought my toaster to its knees, like Natural Selection 2 and Evolve. I’m just trying to play all the things – Prison Architect, various Minecraft mods, Marvel Heroes, GW2’s latest story drop that brings the Silverwastes zone (with all the attendant grind) with way too little time.
Well, I guess we’re all grinding away in our respective games, be it Warlords of Draenor or otherwise. That’s a seed of truth too, I would surmise.
I have wound up stumbling my way into a perfectly balanced triumvirate of gaming: GW2 + Minecraft + Random Singleplayer/Steam Game holds my attention perfectly. So perfectly that I sometimes forget to blog about what I’m doing, and sometimes I still think you guys don’t really want to hear about the 30-60 minutes of doing my dailies in GW2.
I get in one more community participation event post with Bloggy Xmas – broken into two parts because I’m longwinded as hell when I get started.
“Community and Me” is just me rehashing my old history and getting a little maudlin about old communities.
“Community and You” is the main inspirational message to those who miss old communities and yearn for new ones. Step up. Join in. Lead. If you don’t want to lead, be the Second Man. If you still don’t have time for that, be the umpteenth follower, but join in regardless.
As Izlain and Belghast and a number of other blogs are recapping and recounting, 2014 was the year this little part of the internet figured out how to become more interrelated and create a sense of community – one overall arcing ‘blogging’ community containing lots of smaller sub-communities within.
And that’s a good thing too.
P.S. I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to also share what else happened in December that never made it to my blog.
First, the ancient 5.1 speakers and subwoofer started to give way, with the power cutting out every so often (mental note: Buy new 5.1 speakers for Christmas. T’was easier listed than done, mind you, 5.1 speakers appear to be way out of fashion now. Took me a while to find new ones.)
Then on the 19th of December, the unmistakable scent of burning electronics engulfed the room as the power supply of my old toaster of a computer finally reached the end of its lifespan. *bows head in respectful moment of silence*
The good news is that the old hard disks didn’t seem to be too affected by the blowout and I managed to salvage all the data onto an external hard disk.
The bad news is that I’ll have to locate and transfer saves if I should ever want to play stuff I was halfway through, and I’m a very lazy person when we come right down to it.
The fate of the rest of the components is still unknown, pending more free time to check them out. They’re so old, it’s hard to muster enough enthusiasm or energy to do so. One has already written them off in my head, so to speak.
Oh well, at least I successfully transitioned to the new rig before that happened.
After more or less coming to a compromise, if not quite coming to terms, regarding my philosophy of finding raids inherently exclusive and being very allergic to them, I more or less rationalize that they are more or less “okay” in a game which doesn’t have vertically progressing stats on gear, nor exclusive highly desirable rewards coming from only one boss, nor the ability to restrict one’s team to an elite few in a separate raid instance, and more importantly, contains a raiding community large and inclusive enough to leave the door open for newcomers without ridiculous prerequisites and willing to teach others what they know.
In the spirit of this ‘willingness to teach’ and ‘share info with others’ (and also a certain amount of enlightened self-interest to get my Marionette achievements,) I dash out a Visual Guide to the Marionette’s AoEs and contrary to my personality, attempt to promote the hell out of it on Reddit to get as many eyes on it as possible.
Not only does this work, I end up quoting Portal to myself, “I’m making a note here: Huge success” when I look at my blog stats. The page hits over 4,444 pageviews in January, blowing my previous 2013 hit on Liadri (at a mere 2,711 views in the month it was released) out of the water, and I realize that I don’t actually have to do anything else in 2014 – I’ve already topped myself and can sit back, rest on my laurels and just blog about what I feel like blogging about for the rest of the year.
Edge of the Mists launches in GW2, an absolute non-event for me. It is so utterly uninteresting to me that I utterly miss predicting the potential popularity of it as a karma train leveling map.
I was far more interested in knocking out my Rodgort. Hurrah.
We also break for a quick philosophical interlude analyzing the watchwork mining pick, something I have to consider myself fairly spot on regarding the price of its advantage. Sprockets did indeed rise like toxic spores to around 3 silver plus, and I -did- buy the pick and get about a rare’s worth of silver daily from it. I suppose it balances itself out in the end because I don’t camp world bosses, which would also net others a rare, or PUG dungeons in that time (which would net about 3+ rares’ worth of gold).
The wardrobe and account-bound skin saving gets launched, to the immense glee of the fashion-conscious everywhere, and I reach a certain point of no return with GW2 – in a way, it’s a point of maturity in my mind, though it ends up being annoying in terms of having no conversation topics to write about.
It’s the point where I kinda feel that GW2 is -there.- It’s a mature game. I’m mature. I don’t have to spend my every waking moment promoting or hyping this game or feeling super-insecure because omfg, someone dared to say they hate my game on the internet. Yeah, whatever. Don’t play my game then. We have a lot of other people joining or quitting every damn second of every day. I trust that those who like it will stay. Those that don’t, won’t.
It has a good niche (as in pretty much second or third most popular MMO after WoW, depending on whose approximate metrics you’re using) as being a ‘different’ game for those who are tired of the standard MMO model, so it makes a ton of sense that those looking for the vanilla model will find that GW2 won’t give them what they’re looking for.
It’s going to receive a ton of criticism and some praise from pretty much every and any angle, and I found myself running out of new things to say about topics that are going to be rehashed over and over, or experienced in similar ways.
In the same month, I cast my eye around at other games and end up dipping a toe back into Minecraft (now with added mods!) with the Hexxit modpack. (I did, in fact, get my gold chocobo and flew it around visiting random things that caught my eye, but never really found anything more interesting to write home about. Flight sorta killed the mystique of the world.)
I wound down quite quickly in Landmark after that, finishing up after following through some voxel tutorial videos and deciding that this ‘art’ business of working for free for SoE in exchange for ‘fun’ wasn’t quite for me. I intend to take a peek back in at it at some point, especially now that I have more of a monster rig that presumably won’t send me falling through the void at 5 FPS every so often, but I think the longer development time it has before I do so again, the better I’ll look upon it when I pop back in.
Then another feature patch hits, fucking up traits everywhere (many I still haven’t gotten around to unlocking, luckily most of my characters were pre-patch and grandfathered in) and the megaserver rears its ponderous head.
In retrospect, I suppose the megaserver is a necessary evil, so that newbies can join Tyria and feel like they’re in a bustling world, but I do still miss my server communities. I still don’t want to say anything about traits because I haven’t had much experience with them beyond them serving as a goldsink when I power leveled a new character to find that “AUGH, nothing’s unlocked yet. Eff it, where’s my guild bank, lemme just toss some gold at this problem. There are only a few traits I need for this meta build anyway.”
2.5 Things City of Heroes Did Wrong became an overnight hit, laden with controversy, fueling a boatload of comments from some very passionate people. Me, I wound up laughing to myself all the way to the stats bank with 1292 pageviews that month. Absolutely unintentional, I dashed off the post as a mere -response- but I guess I hit something core and fundamental, given that there seemed to be two main groups, one with some amount of agreement and one in complete disagreement.
In June, the bout of mild boredom burnout had all but subsided. I was happy.
The Labyrinthine Cliffs has that effect on me, I guess. Such gorgeous landscapes and lighting. I spent a day or two ostensibly playing GW2 and mostly taking Labyrinthine Cliffs screenshots for posterity. (And a good thing too, given GW2’s propensity for explosions and destruction to move the narrative forward.)
The new Living World Story Journal was announced, I got a Chaos of Lyssa recipe to drop, I even wrote a short story about my Ash Legion engineer – the technical construction of which I am quite proud of. It is absolutely intentional that there is some conflict in every scene/section, two characters want something different, who gets their way? I can be prone to forgetting the rule of conflict, so this was a good writing exercise that actually yielded something complete.
It was a really good haul and I actually got -most- of them played before this year’s Winter sale.
Tried Monaco, State of Decay, they were so-so. Played through Shadowrun: Dragonfall and enjoyed it. Gave Don’t Starve: Reign of Giants some fair enough attempts (that usually ended with my camp going up in flames from a giant Dragonfly in Summer, and losing the willpower to continue further.)
The Wolf Among Us was one of my surprise hits. Highly recommended. Great story, great atmosphere, great setting. Ended up reading the Fables comics due to it.
(I’d love to get back to this at some point, but I wound up distracted for a couple months and now it’s going to take a little longer to get back to it, if ever… for reasons which will become clear when I hit the month of December in retrospective.)
ArenaNet has to be the cleverest game company there is. In the wake of the ever-so-successful Hall of Monuments (the best tribute to lateral progression and over-achievement there ever was) and the build up to Guild Wars 2, what do they do but give Guild Wars 1 its last hurrah, so to speak?
Or rather, one final celebratory encore (since GW1 is not going away, even as the great beast of GW2 at last slouches around the corner,) inviting all of its players to revisit and pay its beauty a respectful toast?
To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists…
Moreover, they are so clever, that they’re making it a shared experience with the excuse of the festival/event of the Wayfarer’s Reverie. Without it, surely some of us would still have made our way in trickles to say farewell (for now), but by making a quest out of visiting some memorable scenic sights, what better way to make sure that more people are able to follow the structure and see what they might have missed (having not seen it for years, or perhaps even, not seen at all.)
As usual, the difficulty level of the quests in Guild Wars has an interesting structure. The more you’ve played, the more you’ve explored, the more places on the map you’ve unlocked with a character, the easier the quest is to get to, generally speaking. Newer players (or a not-so-much played character) tend to find cross country quests more intimidating, as there are so many towns and outposts that aren’t unlocked that one could shortcut from. So it ends up a quest to get TO the outpost (fighting through however many necessary zones or story missions), before the actual quest.
Then there’s the additional layer of player set difficulty. For ultimate face roll, go on normal mode, dump in as many heroes as you can, and presumably all your characters have uber PvXwiki builds like Discordway necros, SoS rits, panic mesmers and what not. Or wander around solo if your build is strong enough. Hard mode generally ramps up the time taken and challenge factor. If you want to min max on time, it’s probably possible to equip a running build and just runrunrun like hell to the quest spots.
I popped in to work on the Wayfarer’s Reverie: Tyria quest. I’m not in a blinding hurry to rush through quest completion, I hit 30/50 some time ago and pretty much decided I’d scraped the ceiling of what I could do without insane grinding, so I experimented with a number of those difficulty levels as my mood took me. A Tormented weapon would be nice if I manage to make it to the end of all four quests by the 25th or 30th, but it’ll only give me 1 more point, fairly meaningless in the larger scheme of things. The true goal was nostalgia.
My wannabe Imbagon paragon was the main of choice, though I was still halfway through getting all the Old Ascalon areas unlocked and accessible for him. My original Prophecies character, a ranger, has been sadly shelved for a long time. I just couldn’t get my head around how to play at long range and he just seemed weaker than the paragon at keeping the whole pack of heroes alive.
I don’t recall how much of Factions I’ve unlocked on him, I may use the Factions warrior when the time comes. Ditto for Eye of the North, which was both attempted on the ranger and the paragon. (Oh, what utter confusion it is to try to have a native character per campaign. In hindsight, should have stuck with one, but how was an altholic supposed to know and resist?)
The paragon didn’t have Serenity Temple unlocked, so I ended up tromping my way through Pockmark Flats and hit the crystal first, before making my way to the temple. I did this one solo, on normal mode, and got pretty good drops of the Wayfarer’s Reverie token while 2-3 shotting every teeny lowbie mob that crossed my path.
I also found some really old screenshots while preparing this post, so old, they were saved in .bmp format, which was an extra nostalgia hit. They were taken in January of 2005. Which presumably means taken during the beta preview weekends, since Guild Wars launched in April 2005. I’ve only edited out my character’s names, since I wasn’t smart enough to remove UI then. Everything else is as it was, lower monitor resolution and graphical setting, no henchman names or levels in the party UI, etc.
I get huge hits of emotional resonance whenever I look upon a Shrine of Melandru. I figure this has to do with my first character being a ranger, and the pre-Searing ranger quest which has you go up to a Shrine and tame one of Melandru’s stalkers as your first ever pet.
That said, mad props and huge respect to Guild Wars for creating such a believable pantheon and putting those graphical touches EVERYWHERE in the game. One look, and you know which altar belongs to Grenth (the Death dude), Balthazar (warrior, sword, fire), Dwayna (blue, angel wings, air), Lyssa (twins) and so on. The lore seeps into you, whether you’re aware of it or not.
And I’ve always thought it such an awesome touch that you can /kneel before the altars and to reward that tiny bit of roleplaying, an avatar of the said god will actually pop up. In some special instances, they’ll offer buffs (but they’re not adverse to you paying them first!) or transport you to really special places, and so on.
I had a fair bit of trouble getting to Flame Temple Corridor for the next landmark on the sightseeing trip, mostly because everything was a big patch of fog in that area. A long time ago, I’d started the paragon on the Great Northern Wall mission, intending to work on the Young Heroes of Tyria book in hard mode, stopped at Fort Ranik and happily dropped everything the moment I hit 30/50 on the Hall of Monuments.
So I made myself cleave slow and steadily through Fort Ranik and Ruins of Surmia missions on hard mode – not that they’re hard, mind you, but they’re time consumingly tedious to roll through – a million and one ‘trash mob’ fights, back and forth to finish the bonus and to wind one’s way around paths one cannot jump down and purposefully placed to make one loop around in circles wondering when one’ll ever get to the end, each eats about an hour just jogging from fight to fight.
It was surprisingly nostalgic to go through them though. At the time, it all looked brown and barren and depressing and filled with endless charr and scorpions and neverending. Now, it still looks like all of the above, but with a little extra spice to the grim bleakness.
Hey, look, it’s the Wall. The one you spend so much bloody time climbing and jumping and clambering over in Guild Wars 2 to get a skill point! Likely not the exact same section of it, but there’s that link, that connection.
And then there are the Flame Effigies. These don’t move, but the family resemblance is there. And it’s amazing how Guild Wars 1 manages to light and make these things look like they’re burning away in such an old game.
I was quite amazed to realize I’d taken a screenshot of the same thing 7 years apart, without prior reference back to the old one. I guess I really like shooting siege machines and wanted to remember it.
Prince Rurik in the Ruins of Surmia. Ah, the horrifying thrill of escort NPC quests as you chase them down screaming, OMG DON’T DIE DON’T DIE, WAIT FOR TEH HEALZ. His redeeming quality, that beautiful flaming dragon sword everyone covets. Wish we could have let him die and then picked up the sword.
Despite better behaved AI, having his hp bar in the party UI, three discordway necros – two sporting rit heals and one with prot monk aegis and stuff – and my paragon’s “there’s nothing to fear,” he almost contrived a successful suicide when I had gotten too comfortable with him behaving and following my party and took a right turn to begin working on the bonus. Then I suddenly realized he’d taken the left turn, towards a closed drawbridge with two Charr and no one else following him except maybe another NPC. Mind you, hard mode, so I couldn’t trust his level 20 self to finish them both at lvl 23 without a scratch. I credit my heroes being able to cast spells through the cliff wall for saving his bacon as I raced back around and up to pull his arse out of the fire.
Now this really brings back memories. The confusion of trying to find “Flame Keepers” to follow, while the Ember Bearers troop down the hill behind you. The ignorance and impatience of youth freely aggro’ing them on purpose and by accident (aggro radius, aggro circle, what the heck are those? See red dot means KILL!) before they can even get to the gate they’re supposed to unlock. Finally, slowly working out that you can indeed let mobs remain alive for 15 or so seconds longer, long enough for them to pull open the gate before you charge.
But now, of course, piece of cake. And all the previous pain of Charr fire elementalists throwing around meteor shower, gone, the only real uncertainty is whether you’ll kill them normally through a steady spear barrage while your heroes discord them, or whether pain inverter will recharge fast enough to watch them blow themselves up by meteor showering the minions swarming them.
I eventually got to Nolani Academy, and then sidetreked off to find the Flame Temple corridor. Now this one I don’t really have memories of. I didn’t even know the place existed until it came time to do the Titan quests, which was only a few years ago, fairly recent. I suspect I must have just gotten pasted by the massive packs of Charr, and hurried away, unwilling to explore a bonus zone without any quests pointing me that way. Or maybe I got there but pushed into Dragon’s Gullet without ever looking backward because it was just a halfway zone.
Not bad looking, but no nostalgia value for me. I poked my head into Dragon’s Gullet long enough to get a screenshot of a rock painting that held distinctly more nostalgia value and remembrance. It’s probably meant to depict Balthazar.
Up next, looking back on the absolute ultimate nostalgia quest of Prophecies – the Villainy of Galrath.