GW2: Further Experi-Adventures in Downscaling

So maybe level 20 is a freak occurrence, right?

Certainly, I went dungeon running in TA (effective lvl 55) and CoF (effective lvl 75) today with a non-PUG group – the guilded pretty faithful meta group to which I am probably the largest deviant away from dps-optimal – and didn’t really “feel” a huge change in damage done or time to kill, although I note that people -were- falling over more often and had to be rezzed a little more.

downscale-compare

Edit: Here, I decided to do a quick graph in Excel.

Edit: Here, I decided to do a quick graph in Excel. Cos more visual.

Let’s recap. I don’t think there is any issue at lvl 70-75 at all. Note in the table that our power levels between the old 70-80 mark are fairly similar to the new 70-80 (just a little tweaked downward.)

From 60 and lower, there is a greater deviation between our old downscaled stats and our new ones.

Our crit chance and damage are still fairly similar between old and new in the 50-60 range (though a little more tweaked downward.)

At 40 and lower, it starts looking really bad in terms of old and new being different and weaker than before.

The most likely dungeon to get hit by this is AC at effective level 35. (CM, I dunno, at effective level 45 – probably would be able to feel a bit of a hit.)

But you know, maybe stuff getting harder and more difficult is good for a change of pace and a challenge. No big arguments against there, I don’t really care or mind either way, if the devs decide that stuff should feel more challenging.

What I -do- care about, is a certain amount of equity.

I have argued very strongly about “a level playing field” and I feel very strongly about this concept.

Veterans should not be able to one-shot (or out-perform) newbies because hooray, vertical progression, more stats, such l33t, gear very purplez, gearscore over 9000, blah blah blah. That is why I play GW2 because we want to be egalitarian about things, we want to be scaled down to the same level playing field as low levels and travel together and welcome each other and so on.

The see-saw should NOT swing in the other way either!

That concept just gives me a massive headache. Why am I leveling up then, if I am just going to get weaker (in low level zones anyway), despite greater effort acquiring exotics and Ascended gear? Unlock/see more zones? Only be stronger in level 80 ones? I’m not -that- allergic to vertical progression.

But anyway, enough philosophizing, I just wanted to lay out some of the rationale behind why I’m bothering (and bothered) about this enough to go and collect data on it – because I value the idea of a level and even playing field, not an uneven one, in either direction.

The following may be somewhat strange level ranges to do comparisons on, but they’re simply dictated by whatever low level character I have lying around.

Feel free to pull out your lowbies to check too. More data the merrier. It’s much easier to find an appropriate zone to waypoint a level 80 to, just glance through the GW2 wiki on zones and effective level in each region.

Level 54

54masterworkrare

On the left is my engineer leveling in backdated and el cheapo gear. Level 50 masterworks, a level 50 rare rifle, level 50 masterwork jewelry, backpack straps with no stats whatsoever, and I was wearing lvl 51 penetrating rings for the hell of it (which give precision/ferocity, not power.)

(Aka the point where I bog down and start having trouble with mobs or the point where I stop leveling and say, eh, I need to update the gear, but I’m too lazy to use the TP… eh, maybe later, and then log off and forget to return.)

On the right is me biting the bullet and buying level 53 rare gear (by level 56, you can get masterwork greens with similar stats), because let’s face it, rare gear unlocks at 39-40, I’m way overdue to start dressing in yellows. Jewelry is updated to yellows, and I pick up a green ghostly spineguard for the back. I’m lazy and I don’t upgrade the level 50 yellow rifle. I put on major runes (4 mesmer for power/precision) and stack on two more +15 power runes.

80to54

Here’s the level 80 downscaled to level 54.

It’s… not too bad at this level range.

He is still somewhat weaker than the buffed out true level 54 (and there is potential for the level 54 to go higher, but we would be stepping into straight out twinking territory – very few people would bother) but he’s got a bit more crit damage from the extra ferocity stat, and presumably his crit chance is a little nerfed to compensate for that difference.

It “feels” comparable (I use the word ‘feels’ when I haven’t calculated or checked any numbers yet and just going by gut feel here.)

Chances are, more than likely, that we will have many lowbies in backdated gear at this level range anyway, and that they’ll be a little behind the downscaled 80, unless they bother to keep on top of things, and then they get a little stronger.

I personally think this is a nice equivalency point to strive to reach at all level ranges.

Level 39

I was thinking I didn’t have any alts at this level – most bogged down at level 50, or they stayed at level 20.

Then I found my PvP ranger. (Yeah, I was playing condi ranger before it was cool. I should get around to trying out just how strange sPvP feels now, but this is keeping me busy already.)

I dragged him out to Lion’s Arch, where he became uber-noob backdated power-based leveling build once more.

39yucktogood

On the left, we have him sitting in mostly level 32 green masterwork gear (at lvl 39) with the exception of one level 39 yellow glove that dropped while I was leveling. His jewelry is mostly level 25 blue fines (hey, you can resell those, y’know, I am el cheapo!) of the sunstone variety (more precision than power), with one level 20 green mighty amulet. He has a stack of +50 power on minor runes (and 15 precision on the rare yellow glove) to make up for my miserly and laggard gear updating ways.

On the right, I got off my arse, and bought level 38 green masterwork gear direct from the TP. I put them on without stacking any minor runes whatsoever, the default arrangement comes with +20 power, +20 precision and +10 condi damage and +1% damage against foes with less than 50% health. I bought a level 38 green longbow. I bought level 35 green jewelry (carnelians, for power/precision) and I bought a level 38 green amulet and stuck a carnelian jewel in it.

Mr El-Cheapo Haphazard Gearing Ranger has 594 Power, 35.17% crit chance, 150.41% crit damage.

Mr Default But More Current Gear Ranger has 678 Power, 42.82% crit chance,  150% crit damage. (And we can easily replace two minor runes for +20 more power.)

80to39

This is my level 80 downscaled to level 39.

Mr Exotic Armor (One Ascended Chestpiece) Exotic Weapon Ascended Trinkets Warrior has 590 Power, 33.11% crit chance, 191.79% crit damage.

I dunno about you, but I don’t think that extra 40% crit damage helps that much if I can’t even crit in the first place, and have to take a “I hit for less direct damage than a lowbie in el-cheapo gear” tradeoff to boot.

80to40

Even downscaled to 40, he’s not as good as a level 39 in level 38 masterwork gear.

“….”

Non-80 Downscaling

So then I wondered, how about if a still leveling character downscales to a lower level? Do they get as chopped off at the knees as a level 80? Does it hit them as hard?

54to39

Remember my engineer newly decked out in yellow rares? 684 Power, 45.47% crit chance, 150% crit damage at level 39.

That seems quite respectable and on par with Mr Default But Current Gear Masterwork Ranger (just a tinge better, which makes sense, she’s in yellows.)

54to40

Even at effective level 40, she’s better than the level 80 in terms of power and crit chance.

More @ Level 20

Then for the hell of it, I decided to downscale her to level 20 to see how she fared, since I already had stats for level 20 previously.

And you know, maybe Wendon Waypoint and Brisban Wildlands are broken, (or rather, I didn’t have that waypoint and didn’t feel like running there), so let me find another region that also downscales to level 20.

I find Owl’s Abbattoir and Owl Waypoint in Snowden Drifts. Perfect. New location.

And maybe my level 80 warrior is broken. So I am also going to take my level 80 guardian along too.

lvl20comparison

From left to right, we have level 20 warrior, level 54 engineer downscaled to 20, level 80 warrior downscaled to 20, level 80 guardian down to 20.

Power: 266, 282, 225, 224.

Crit Chance: 8%, 36.66%, 21.33%, 19.33%

Crit Damage: 150.93%, 150.0%, 174.73%, 171.46%

Shall I quote armor for the hell of it? (Bearing in mind that the engineer is medium armor, and the rest are all heavies.)

Armor: 380, 346, 326, 313. (The engineer is 346, mind you, more than the level 80s. Evidently, my 80s are not considered leet anymore because I am only in exotics and need to be in all pink Ascended to be on par with lowbies now, where that stat is concerned. Such grind. Or maybe I should just make lowbies instead and not bother leveling. New suggestion: Option to turn off xp gain. We need it for uh… “roleplaying” purposes, yes, that is it.)

So yeah, I rest my case for now.

I’m going to duck my head down now, shoot some karka in Lion’s Arch (stats not required) and harvest nodes or something (stats not required either if I just run around and don’t kill anything.)

There’s also the world boss cycle, which seems to be the first thing getting tuned and is still pretty darned easy and rewarding for following the zerg around, minus a few bugs here and there, and I might do Teq.

Triple Trouble, I dunno, I think some tweaking is still in order, given what I heard listening in on the NA attempts. I suppose if I’m bored and have nothing to do, I can still help out in the OCE timeslot and see how things go.

GW2: The Old Versus The New – Guardian

Well. -The- patch is here.

It wasn’t easy waiting for 12 hours, wondering why I didn’t take a day off from work, mind you.

With even more irony, I logged in on my warrior alt, thinking to witness the awesome glory that is supposed to be overwrought condition stacks melting world bosses… only to be late to the successful Teq map, attempt a second impromptu Teq that few showed up to (having already succeeded prior), and then stand by for a Triple Trouble Wurm that had a communication malfunction, leading to unsuccessful synced decapitation and no phase 2.

Meh. Guess I was overdue for an unlucky day.

I did manage to do some brief preliminary comparisons on my warrior while waiting for all this stuff, so I had a vague inkling of how all the stats were shifting. Somewhat. (No condition damage comparisons as yet. Was just looking at overall stats, level scaling and power builds so as to get my main characters back to a semi-status quo state.)

After which, I finally had the time to look at my guardian main more closely. (Not yet thoroughly though, just a glance so far.)

Overall Exotic Versus Ascended Stat Comparisons

There’s good news on this front, in that the change isn’t as drastic as feared. Apparently they cut back the proposed 10% difference in stats down to 5% again or something.

gw2statcompare

I’m not 100% sure my calculations are exactly accurate, so take whatever I say next with a grain of salt, or feel free to check my calculations for me.

The first set of columns were the old pre-patch stats for exotic and ascended gear.

The second set of columns was a really quick back-of-the-envelope Excel calculated theoretical stats based on the “30% increase in stats and 10% difference in exotic/ascended” phrase.

The last set are the actual new stats, as mostly visually verified by staring at the tooltips on my exotic zerker gear and ascended trinkets, plus one ascended armor and then taking the GW2’s wiki’s stats for the rest (they seem to pull direct from the API, so everything appears to match.)

In our original pre-patch circumstances, the difference between full exotic gear and full ascended gear was 8.38%, in terms of just comparing the primary stat – aka somewhat significant, but not overwhelmingly so. Certainly there is encouragement/motivation to pick up ascended trinkets at least, as that then closes the gap to 2.16% difference. Picking up an ascended weapon but not going for ascended armor, leaves  you at 1.31% difference Power stat-wise. (Not talking Armor here, that’s a whole different ballgame.)

The slightly more dreaded theoretical post-patch scenario would put the difference between full exotic and full ascended at 10.06%. (Which is a really fun number for math-impaired individuals to rally around and kick people without realizing that the pre-patch difference was also 8.38%.)

However, even if this came to pass, picking up ascended trinkets would put a character at 4.67% difference from someone in full Ascended. (Rounded up to 5%, it’s still not a terribly fun number, because I can definitely see some people getting their panties in a twist over being 5% “weaker.”)

With an ascended weapon, the difference would be 2.95% (or 3%), which is ehhh… not terribly horrific either way, but meh, I wouldn’t have been thrilled to end up feeling obliged to get ascended weapons for all of my dungeon running or WvW characters.

The good news is that the actual new stats have gotten a little more moderated back to something not so annoying.

The difference between full exotic and full ascended has actually improved just a tide at 7.72% (due to exotic getting a boost in stats to make up for removal of stats from the traitlines, I believe, unless I screwed up the math somewhere.)

Picking up ascended trinkets improves a character to 2.37% difference, which is a slightly larger gap than of old (2.16%), but yeah, doesn’t seem like something to fret over.

Ditto just lacking ascended armor, it’s 1.47% difference as compared with the 1.31% difference of old. The gap’s slightly larger than before, but not even a full percent of difference.

Absolute stat-wise, we’re talking about a 99 Power difference between full exotics and full ascended now, as compared to 84 Power before, or the 130 Power of the theoretical scenario.

I kinda like that number. 100 Power “feels” sorta significant as a pretty round number for the math-impaired, but you can easily nom a consumable food that gives you +100 Power, and be on par with say, someone in full Ascended armor that foolishly didn’t bother to eat any.

Of course, just as I finish typing this, I realize that I’ve neglected to add pre-patch base stats (I think it was 926) to this total, as compared with the post-patch base stats (now 1000), so… argh.

gw2statcompare2

One quickie version later, the Power differences have gotten even closer.

Conclusion: We haven’t hit any apocalypse stat-on-gear-wise that one can (or should) throw a hissy fit over. Eating consumables, finding runes or traits that give +7% or +10% or +15% damage would probably skew damage more than this stuff (I guess I should sit down and calculate those one day to figure the exact numbers out for myself too.)

Level 80 Stat Comparisons on my Guardian

80finder

Obviously, this is going to differ from your characters based on however you traited them. My main guardian has decidedly never been dungeon meta compliant. Deciding that I just didn’t want to use greatsword often on this character, I dipped into right-hand strength very early on to get consistent crit damage from sword/focus and scepter, and never looked back.

The old version dipped into four traitlines for a bunch of utility stuff like all the radiance blind on F1, honor for empowering might and the heal on dodge roll, a little virtues for the extra stuff on virtues and gave up going deep into the Power traitline that way, losing 200 potential Power.

You can see the new version has picked up quite a bit more Power from the stats being on his gear instead of on a traitline. Toughness increased slightly, but that’s just the base stats getting boosted up. Vitality dropped, with a corresponding drop in health, which I’m not 100% thrilled about.

Precision is… meh, more or less somewhat similar, and Ferocity got a boost. Condi damage and healing power, ehh, lost them completely, though I’m not sure if there’s too much difference between minimal benefit and none.

My crit chance dropped by 5%-ish, something that doesn’t really make me that happy, but eh, I guess that’s what right-hand strength and its bonus 15% crit is for. Crit damage dealt does increase a little due to the corresponding Ferocity increase though.

guardianspec

I’m relatively content trait-wise, having decided to go for Radiance, Honor and Virtues.

I get a pretty similar spammable F1 Virtue of Justice as before, though I think I’ve lost the vulnerability on it. I get better recharge on my signet heal and my torch skills, where previously I had none. And I still get right-hand strength (15% crit) and an extra 10% to crit on foes that are burning. (And everything -should- be burning these days.)

I keep vigorous precision, which I am super-used to for endurance regeneration so I can dodge, and selfless daring for a heal on roll (though it may be worse with 0 healing power now.) I keep empowering might, something I am again used to. I get -extra- 15% endurance regen from the new minor trait, and a protector’s impact symbol so I’m much safer when falling now, AND I get pure of voice on my shouts, which is really sweet because my previous build had a serious issue with condition removal.

I keep unscathed contender and inspired virtues, again stuff I am -used- to, and get a whole bunch of bonuses to virtues that I never had before.

The biggest thing I lost was vulnerability on blind, which on a sword/focus, spam F1 guardian, is quite a bit of vulnerability indeed. :(

(Ah well, looks like I’ll have to use my second guardian – which I’m okay using greatswords on – to cover that.)

The tradeoff is that I got quite a shitton more condition removal and virtue stuff to play around with.

Amusingly, when I ran around Orr and did a quick comparison of before and after, I still seemed to be doing very similar damage on the whole (1700-2300) per sword hit, and my scepter hits seemed to have improved slightly (1400-1600 to 1800-1900 damage) so I guess I’m not /unhappy/ overall with this particular guardian build. (Still need to compare his burning damage and healing potential at some point though.)

Level Scaling Down

70finder

This is what it looks like at level 70.

Because I am an idiot that forgot to take accurate records of data at levels 50 and 60, (ie. forgot to open the Hero screen to look at one’s stats, in favor of hitting stuff), I’m going to have to rely on my second set of data on the warrior later to get a solid grip on this, and use my guardian data as a sort of backup confirmation (after I piece back together what stats I can through guesswork via the combat log.)

The overall picture doesn’t seem terribly pretty though.

By level 50ish, and definitely at lvl 40, and probably under that, our new scaled down stats are worse than before.

What this means for dungeons, if any, I’m not sure, but it does seem like an effort to bring lvl 80s in parity with new leveling characters (which are supposedly more aggressively scaled up. I neglected to collect any data on that front, so I’ll leave that for someone else to figure out.) Which may be a good thing community-wise. Then again, social stuff is hard to predict.

More musings later, after checking out the warrior(s).

P.S. In the interests of disclosure, I have bought the Ultimate edition today. The Anet reaction to the uproar was pleasantly mollifying. A preliminary look at stat changes in the patch didn’t seem to indicate the end of the world was coming or require a ragequit on behalf of my principles.

I had -intended- to stick to my guns and wait until more information was released, but there were a) white wings that I was going to buy anyway that were on a one-day time limit, and b) a self-inflicted gambling/I-want-it-now-it-might-be-too-late-later urge regarding a couple of scientific skins that are currently in price flux while people try to figure out if they are intended to be sold for 1 or 3 tickets at the moment.

Between some ‘fun’ ie. lottery-style entertainment with Black Lion Keys (25 keys => 10 ticket scraps) and exchanging gems to gold (789 gems => 125g) while folks are going nuts feeding gold into gems for the wings, I managed to pick up two more skins that I wanted (not to mention plenty of boosters for future alts in the two character slots and spare transmutation charges) and have gotten most of the gambling urge out of my system for around $36.25 USD or $48.74 SGD.

Which, I suppose, is okay. A little more spendthrift than I regularly practice, but something I can afford at this point in time. (Yes, Black Lion Keys directly to skins is not worth it unless you’re really lucky. You’re mostly spending $1.05-$1.10 for a booster and the /hope/ that something good will pop. Which is an amusing hope to indulge from time to time, but rarely, once in a blue moon kinda thing.

Folks who can’t control themselves though, had better not start in the first place. This one was a mea culpa, when I suddenly got it in my head that I might maybe want to chase/complete a Black Lion Skin collection for the hell of it. It’s looking like, probably not. One will suffice with what one has.)

Drowning… But in a Good Way…

What do I do now? Let me count the ways…

GW2

Draining half my resources appears to have successfully rekindled a fire in me to start making a list of things to do (which will also coincidentally earn some gold, plus some that might take the stockpile in the opposite direction.)

I need to get my new-ish asura warrior to a waypoint in every map that has a dungeon, as he is the one character that is 100% meta compliant (as opposed to 95%), and more importantly, isn’t overloaded with 101 “fun” fireworks, tonics, spare gear sets and assorted Silverwastes junk. That kinda gets in the way of the ideal “zoom from dungeon to dungeon without pause and earn tons of gold” routine.

I suddenly have the intense craving for a number of Scientific weapon skins from the Black Lion vendors (or TP), which means I either need a ton of gold, or convince myself to spend the equivalent of a month’s subscription on being sorely disappointed on Black Lion’s Chests (or trade in the equivalent sum for gold, which would guarantee at least one skin) and/or farm Black Lion Keys and trade time instead of hard currency. To even figure out where to begin, it seems like a good idea to watch a video of all the skins first and prioritize “must-haves” versus “nice-to-haves.”

It occurs to me that I have a number of basic collections and left over collect some coin or badge or other item from Dry Top/Silverwastes that I have yet to complete. Those should be far easier mini-milestones or goalposts for the feeling of mini-wins than building a legendary…

Speaking of which, I have now used up my two Gifts of Exploration from world map completion, which means another alt has to circumnavigate the globe at some point. Each map is another potential mini-goalpost.

Speaking of alts, not only do I have alts that should be brought to level 80 -some- day, I had the vague desire to take nifty screenshots of my characters and discuss my relationship to my in-game avatars in similar fashion to Rowan Blaze, who has also been inspired by Syp to wonder about how various players fit on the roleplaying versus puppeteering spectrum with regards to their characters/avatars.

And and, if I want gold, I should really get on Silverwastes chest farms or an easy world boss train cycle to replace all those ectos nommed up by Kraitin.

Steam Sale

I have been feeling a little more financially solvent recently, and this has manifested itself in an enthusiastic attempt to clear my Steam wishlist (which dates back to 2012 and earlier.)

I haven’t completely lost my mind or loosened my purse strings entirely, but I decide it was time to actively re-look at the wishlist and ask myself hard questions as to whether I really wanted to ever play the game and/or buy it when it reached 75% off. (Yeah, my wishlist is mostly to keep track of when games I’m interested in hit that threshold.)

It helps that I’ve now decided I can watch and enjoy Youtube videos via streaming to the TV, which then helped me throw out some titles whose setting and potential story intrigued me, but whose gameplay I was left very hesitant about after seeing other peoples’ reviews. (Solution: Find a Let’s Play of the game on Youtube, watch someone else play through it for me while I do other constructive chores around the house.)

Other games, I decided to toss entirely, like Dungeonbowl – where the vitriol about it being horrendously buggy and not having any singleplayer worth speaking of suggested that I’d never actually play it (may as well just cut out some paper miniatures and play my own solo game via tabletop rules if it’s that bad) and the Walking Dead Season 2 – its setting/theme/characters just doesn’t strike a note with me, for some reason.

(I valiantly struggled my way through the first Walking Dead, alternately bored with the mundanity of everyday America and uncontrollably metagaming every time an obvious “no-win” moral dilemma scene/scenario came up. I limped my way through two or three vignettes of 400 days, and then decided there was just no way I could stay interested in these characters, which were either fated to be killed horribly by some other mortal or mortal turned zombie. Nihilism / Anomie 1: Jeromai 0. Except I guess I also win by choosing not to buy or play any more goddamn seasons.

Perhaps I’ll keep an eye on Tales from the Borderlands once it finishes, that seems a little more lighthearted and up my alley, as opposed to something like *ugh* Game of Thrones, which doubtless contains more blood-grimdarkness-politics-nowinscenarios, I’m guessing.)

Despite those that didn’t make the cut, there were a LOT of suddenly-now-75%-off games on my wishlist that were mostly under $5 that didn’t have any obvious reasons for why they shouldn’t be bought and given a try…

Self-control 0, Steam 1 (or 19, rather:)

whatselfcontrol

(Plus a few more in the $10 range that were just too tempting, solid reviews though.)

So…uhhhh… yeah… I need to find the time to install and at least -try- the games for an hour or two. No plans to complete them entirely, but I really should play them and have fun with the lot.

It’s only Day 3 of the sale. I’m doomed.

Free-2-Play Games On the To-Try Someday List

I mentioned my new TV channel surfing habit of flipping through “recommended”  Youtube videos, right?

Some random dudes made a Top Ten list of Free 2 Play Steam games, that probably turned up on my suggested watching list because they mentioned Dota 2 and my TV channel surfing account has a bunch of Dota 2 related channels on subscription, and I suddenly accumulated a list of free-2-play games that I ought to try for fun. After all, they’re free and on Steam, right?

Warframe, Robocraft, and TERA are all stuff sitting in the back of my mind, poking me every now and then that I should make a go at them, if only for a night to get some initial impressions.

They mentioned Marvel Heroes, which is one of those games which are just so colorfully attractive in terms of IP, and yet equally intriguing to me is the “Is this all there is to it?” question that hits me every time I dive into it. Kill a metric ton of PvE mobs that put up no fight whatsoever, accumulate many numbers on many things, find increasing numbers and wear those things to kill even higher metric tons of PvE mobs that put up no fight whatsoever? Surely there’s -more- to Marvel Heroes than what initially hits the casual eye… (who knows, I’ve never made it beyond the second story mode difficulty because it got so damn boring and I end up diverted running cycles through Midtown Madness instead to increment higher and higher numbers.)

Then they talk about Path of Exile, and I’m like, YEAH, THAT GAME IS AWESOME. And I’m SO going to be back when the Awakening expansion is finally done and I get to play Act 4.

And they close with the utter king of Steam Free-To-Play games… Dota 2.

Dota 2

Uh… right. I was supposed to be playing a match every day.

Except I got busy, and then distracted doing a whole bunch of other stuff.

I still -do- intend to keep playing it, and learning more, of course.

And apparently they’ve JUST announced a rework of their client, calling it Dota 2 Reborn.

Which is kind of awesome, in more ways than one.

Being all newbie and stuff, I’m especially intrigued by the advertised new tutorial, as well as the feature that will allow one to “demo a hero” to try out their abilities and practice last hitting, which seems like a quick and convenient way to get a feel for various heroes and learn their abilities, as opposed to having to click a bunch of buttons to start an entire bot match just to do so.

Seems like next week, they’ll make some kind of announcement regarding custom games, likely building it in as part of the client’s UI and streamlining the process of downloading/trying out/joining custom games, which might make the subgenre more popular and possibly attract more folks to work on such stuff, potentially yielding all that player-generated content that saves the devs from needing to focus on such things.

(Hey, maybe we’ll eventually see a few maps/modes that support singleplayer gameplay, which would be amusing to try out. Casually skimming the existing list of custom games reveals a great deal of apparent junk, but also a few intriguing sounding maps, such as survival against various enemy waves or a new map that is almost RPG-esque in its looks but presumably plays like a normal MOBA. Presumably good stuff will rise to the top in time.)

Regardless, there’s plenty of extra shiny that seems to be coming Soon(TM).

Gratuitous Screenshots of a Real Life Kind

With this many games that I could be playing, what have I been doing instead these past weekends?

Playing tourist in my own country.

Beyond visiting various heritage enclaves (Chinatown, Geylang Serai, etc.) and sampling all the highly recommended food therein, the family finally got around to visiting one of the newer attractions the other day – Gardens By the Bay.

dragonflylake

The infamous boat atop the Marina Bay Sands, as seen via the Dragonfly Lake in the free public areas of the Gardens.

To my surprise, it was a lot better than I expected. Seems several years passing has given the plants a chance to settle in and look a little less sorry.

supertree1

The iconic, yet rather weird-looking, Supertree structures.

Ostensibly some sort of marriage between urban modernity and nature, the outer layer is covered by a vertical garden and apparently lights up like a Christmas tree at night (something I have yet to get around to seeing.)

We found ourselves more impressed by the “green” sustainability story around these structures. There are apparently photovoltaic cells atop them that store energy during the day and provide the power to light themselves up at night (and maybe a nearby fountain or two.) Some of them help to vent air out of the cooled conservatories (aka giant greenhouse domes,) yet another plant-like function.

supertree2

The lighting’s poor in this one, but hey, there’s actually plants managing to ascend and partially cover the horribly bare purple and green metal “fake branch” canopy on this particular Supertree.

I suppose they might actually look tree-like in another decade or so… assuming the vines don’t barbeque in our tropical sun and wilt, falling off the structure (seems someone may have been a tad idealistic in hoping the plants would cooperate regarding this design.)

The cooled conservatories, which are ticketed, were really quite nifty.

Ah, the irony of the tropics. In temperate countries, people build greenhouses to keep their plants warm and create humidity. Here, we air condition the greenhouse to make it cooler and more temperate.

The Cloud Forest aims to simulate a tropical or subtropical environment at higher elevations, atop mountains and so on. So only the temperature is cooled and the humidity is left to run hog wild.

cloudforestwaterfall

A seven-story concrete structure covered by plants to simulate a “mountain,” er… “a hill,” er… ok, ok, a “mound.”

cloudforest2

It really is pretty though. And the cool, damp environment is extremely pleasant to walk around in, as contrasted with the outside weather.

We managed to be in the right place at the right time to catch one of the scheduled mistings.

cloudforest3

Feeling a little like stepping back in time to the Jurassic.

Then I turned around and went, “OMG, GW2 god rays!” (sure sign one plays too much) and started snapping like a madman.

cloudforest4

*dreamy sigh* Right out of an Anet landscape… Heart of Thorns, eat your heart out.

bromeliad

This bromeliad was pretty cool. Looked to be one of those that form its own mini-pond community, aka a tank bromeliad that has a phytotelma. (Ah, the things one learns from Google and Wikipedia.)

pitcherplant

A rather sizeable pitcher plant.

pitcherpond

A metric f–kton more pitcher plants.

waterfall1waterfall2

Amusing myself with different shutter speeds.

I managed to burn through a new set of batteries (forgot spares) before we even hit the Flower Dome, which left me a touch sparse on good pictures.

The climate in there was glorious though. The air is run through some sort of dehumidifying system, along with being cooled, and it absolutely felt like walking around in a temperate country. Definitely going to revisit again. Cheaper than an air ticket.

flowerdome

I’ll just leave this photo here which seems to encapsulate most of its contents. Brilliant succulent garden, a collection of baobabs/bottle trees, a lot of plants enthusiastically blooming.

Oh, ok, maybe one more. Because I love these little critters.

stoneplants

And this is a gaming blog, right? So here’s your mini-game: how many stone plants are in this picture?

(Stay distracted. Kthxbai. Back later with actual game stuff. I hope.)