GW2: Heart of Thorns Beta Sneak Peek / Test Thingmajig Thoughts

beta_wyvern

Brought down a wyvern out of the sky with about 8 people or so.

Felt pretty good.

Oh yeah, we killed it too, but that was only a matter of time. (S’ good no time limit.)

The defiance break bar felt quite good. Seemed like it would take about 5-6 people’s coordinated cc within a fairly short (5 seconds?) period of time to successfully land.

At first there was only me and another person landing cc at most.

Then I decided that everyone else hadn’t read the skill bar for their revenants (understandable, my eyes were glazing trying to make sense of their utilities and I told myself, meh, will learn it as I level the real one when the expansion hits) and outright announced which skill to use.

It took about 5 more break bars of practice, with one or two more people catching on each time, but as the wyvern dropped to about 1/4 health, we finally managed ONE coordinated cc spike. Just the one, but it was rather satisfying to see it crash out of the sky instead of flying off and coating the platform with flame.

I figure it’ll only be a matter of time before people learn. Seems learnable. And if it doesn’t work, it’ll just take slightly longer to succeed, is all. (For this encounter, anyway.)

Pretty small test area for the beta, but what was there felt overall good and tight.

beta_masteries

Masteries were there with readable tooltips.

It -did- take me a while to figure out where they put it, since I kinda skipped over the first popup tip.

Went through the hero panel with no success, becoming more and more perplexed until I finally spied the unfamiliar symbol in the lower right hand corner of my screen. Clicking on it pulled it up.

Revenant was on show with limited traits and weapons and stances (looks like the heavy armor equivalent of engineer and elementalist complexity, if you ask me, and I think it’s a class I will probably be more inclined to learn over the other two.)

Pretty wild skills overall. A ranged hammer and a mace/axe that felt melee-ish. A lot of rectangular line-shaped skills. Some kind of stored up energy system for utility skills and elites rather than the usual cooldown times. A ‘resistance’ buff that makes them ignore conditions for the duration (“Nooooo,” scream my condi PvP builds) and a lot of condition/boon manipulation possibilities, I think.

One ‘Adventure’ was on show, where you run around with a flamethrower and torch vine tendrils and try to reach bronze, silver, gold target numbers for doing it good, better, best. I managed bronze and unlocked a mastery point, so that’s one option for masteries. Seemed like a solo style scoring affair at first glance, not 100% sure. Might be a minor social issue of “you took my mob spawns!” if so.

beta_gliding

The only thing that I wasn’t 100% impressed with was gliding.

I didn’t like the delay between leaping off something, falling screaming a certain distance before the option to “Press Space to Glide” came up. I’m not sure if it’s a ping issue (~230ms, for the record) but I fell for like several character lengths (heights) before I could press space to trigger the gliding. That feels very awkward, compared with my memory of how smooth it was in Aion.

The glider also looked remarkably lame. Like I grabbed a pink flower to fly or something – too curvy, I kinda had the expectation that gliders would be more aerodynamically streamlined with straight lines…

Once the glider had taken hold though, the actual gliding experience felt ok.

Caught an updraft once during the wyvern fight (had to get out of combat to switch weapons) and that worked as expected. Fly into it with glider, thing lifts you like an elevator (or one of those aetherblade bounce pads, but slightly slower and more controlled) and you can glide out of it as desired.

Besides that, everything else felt decent. The one event chain that was on display worked. Fight a bunch of mordrem vines and stuff. Fight a bunch more mordrem while carrying bombs to blow up something. Lazy people who refuse to carry bombs can hang way back in a separate event to snipe mobs with a seriously overpowered sniper rifle, assisting in the otherwise highly tedious killing of Mordrem husks that get in the way of the bomb carriers. Succeeding let you board choppers to take out ze wyvern.

beta_crash

Very little need to comment about the scenery. All well done, aesthetically spot on in the usual ArenaNet style. Jungle definitely looking to be quite vertical, did quite a bit of accidental (then purposeful) falling and getting out of the beta testing area via gravity and getting forcibly zapped back to starting point as a result. Presumably will be even MORE vertical when the real thing hits.

Can’t wait.

(In the meantime, I need to get around to a post or series of posts about what I’ve been up to the past week or so, but bah, busy busy busy.)

Death to Chain Letters, Web Awards and Other Grumpy Hermit Musings

One random wall-of-text fact about Jeromai:

I murder chain letters. I take great delight in breaking chains that run on fear and superstition, trusting in science, RNG and the general unfairness of the universe to leave me blissfully unscathed from whatever heinous doom was supposed to fall on that most dastardly of souls, the one-who-*gasp*-broke-the-chain.

That said, a blogger friend whom I respect and enjoy reading has nominated me for a not-to-be-named-here thingummy, leaving me in the decidedly awkward position of not actually minding answering a few questions from one friend to another, while not actually wanting to perpetuate something that sends someone else’s (whom I don’t know, and know not their motives) SEO skyrocketing.

I’m also okay with the spirit of the thing, which seems to be to highlight less trafficked bloggers or friends whose words you enjoy reading and would like to hear more from, or know more about.

I just really really detest that it’s wrapped up in a) a web award format (I don’t understand the appeal of decorating one’s website with a random graphic saying that you won an award, hell, I don’t understand why people go to meaningless (as in stuff everyone can win or fake ‘excellent service’ awards a bunch of people make up to soothe their employees’ need for external validation) award ceremonies in real life either) and b) a chain letter format.

So eff that.

Format stomped on. It’s dead.

Now I’m just here to answer some questions, share a few less-known bloggers whom I enjoy reading, and then ask a few of my own, throwing open the floor to -anyone- to respond and share if they want to, whether I name you specifically or no, or whether you’re even a blogger (maybe you’re just one of my favorite commenter persons instead.)

I do not drink soda. (Especially not after ballooning in my youth from a daily Coca Cola habit, sorta like a Super Size Me documentary in real life.)

I don’t watch enough TV these days to have a current favorite show or a celebrity crush. I could point y’all to ancient history and recommend Babylon 5 as my favorite show of all time instead.

As for celebrity crushes, had a bunch, and they’re still mostly ancient history, given my lack of current TV or movie keeping up with, but you know, I think Holly Marie Combs playing Piper Halliwell in Charmed is pretty damn hot.

Asking me for a favorite video game character is like asking me narrow down a single favorite video game. I just can’t do it. Even on my best focused days, I’m playing GW2 and Minecraft simultaneously because each give me different experiences, both of which I enjoy and need.

As long as the video game character fits the story the game is telling, then they’re a favorite because they’re who they need to be.

Asking me for a favorite genre of music also falls in the above category. I listen to pretty much anything and everything, and I just keep what I like. Pop rock, musicals, filk, country, symphonic metal, mashups, yeah.

Sting is a perennial favorite, his repertoire is extensive and his lyricism is clever. Been listening to both the Wicked and The Last Ship soundtracks lately. (Jock the Singing Welder is a hoot.) Leslie Fish’s lyrics are either hilarious or awfully sharp or both. I guess I haven’t been listening to much country lately, but I used to enjoy Faith Hill once upon a time. Heather Dale was a really nice Celtic/folklore artist I discovered via Pandora, before they region-blocked me and much of the rest of the world (DEATH TO REGION LOCKS, eesh.) Nightwish and Poets of the Fall are awesome (is POTF considered rock, rather than metal? Who knows.)  And Norwegian Recycling is my favorite mashup artist.

Yes, I drink alcohol. Not in heavy amounts, so as not to kill my liver and kidneys and whatever. I enjoy tasting a variety and a range of good quality stuff, so I dabble with certain cocktails and go on little tasting sprees to sate my curiosity. Beyond craft beers, I ventured into absinthe for a while (really good with coffee), tasted a little sake and decided nah, dessert and ice wines I like, other wines are either too dry or too pricey for me to consider further, and I’m currently eyeing various rums and other liqueurs, but haven’t acted on the desire yet.

It’s a lot cheaper a habit to eat gourmet single-origin 70%+ chocolate (Amedei is awesome) and keep the remainder of the cash for a vast variety of games, than buy 4-5 bottles of good alcohol for a tasting party.

No beard. Scratchy both ways, I should think.

I’d pick enough money to sustain me for life, over life-long love. Not that I don’t think the latter is unimportant, but as we’re right now in the beginnings of what seems like an aging population crisis and seeing how much my family is currently spending on my seriously aged grandparents, a certain pragmatism is telling me that one would have a better time of it if one can afford to pay younger people to look after you in your old age -and- pay for medical care.

If I really loved my life-long love, I wouldn’t want them to end up trying to deal with all the problems without sufficient money.

Several years ago, if my current boss fired me, I’d probably be relieved and happy, cos I was in serious throes of burnout in a more-dysfunctional-than-normal organization.

Now, I’d probably be sad, because I’ve found a niche in a slightly less-dysfunctional-than-normal organization and am being careful about my propensity for obsession and burnout. Getting fired would mean I’d have to run the job lottery all over again and try to find/locate/create a not-so-dysfunctional space for myself /somewhere/.

I’d rather not have to do that until it becomes necessary. (Cynicism tells me it’s merely a matter of time, cos change is a constant and all it takes is a few screwed up individuals to make life difficult for everyone else in the organization.)

Did I start a blog to showcase my writing or just to vent? Both.

Why do I think you nominated me for this award?

Because you want to hear a grumpy hermit rant about death, doom and destruction to chain letters?

Because Jeromai is a weird, eccentric cipher of a person and trying to find out more about the mystery is always intriguing?

And just when I thought I was done, another blogger friend whom I respect and enjoy reading has come up with even more questions. Dammit.

What language would I learn overnight if I could?

Um, it’s a toss up between Quenya (to speak in elvish tongues would be cool), Old English (reading and understanding Beowulf and other texts in the original language would be awesome) and contemporary Mandarin Chinese (because despite a dozen years being educated in it, I still have little to no grasp of it and it would actually be a useful ‘normal’ skill.)

Knowing how easily I get motion sick, I’m not 100% sure a full on VR experience would be great for me. But it’ll have to be whatever incarnation of Guild Wars we’re up to then, because Tyria is awesome and ArenaNet still has the best fantasy artists of our time creating that painterly otherworldly look. (also some pretty solid engineers and network people and programmers and planners for the minimal downtime, minimal lag experience.)

I honestly have no clue what I’d want to say to a dead person, let alone invite them over for tea and biscuits. If I liked what they wrote in a book or so on, their work and wisdom and knowledge exists beyond their individual lives. And they would probably be a lot less impressive in person.

(I’d also be tongue-tied and am generally not very sociable by nature, so… yeah.)

Biscuit recommendations though, the Aussies have it with Arnott’s Tim Tams.

I don’t watch Game of Thrones. Can I just have all the Houses go down in flames, along with House Atreides and House Baenre?

Justice means…

…that I just spent an hour googling up and reading philosophy to figure how to even begin scratching the surface of this question.

When I hear the word “justice,” my first impulse is to think of it in a more legal sense, which I guess, brings to mind more procedural and retributive justice systems. I’m personally a little more in favor of restorative justice than retributive, but one recognizes that all types exist in the world (including the lack of -any- justice or a perversion thereof.)

In the context of the question, it seems to be referring to distributive justice, how goods and resources should be allocated to a populace.

Which then makes me want to ask, “in a game or in real life?”

Games are a smaller, more controlled system with boundaries and rules that can be set by the designers. I’d say they should feel free to experiment with all types, and see how the populace of different games react, a sort of inadvertent social research in a way.

In real life, my belief is that justice is a human created concept. Fairness and altruism has some roots in biology, but a full on justice system seems to be the province of humanity.

Much of the world is already operating on a capitalistic, economically-driven meritocracy, which rewards people (very generally speaking) for the amount of work they do. (Definitions of ‘work’ being somewhat questionable, as some ‘work’ may simply be politicking or maneuvering oneself into a better social position for more benefits.)

Totally equal distribution of goods regardless of what people do wouldn’t work, then no one would do anything.

So I would actually put a vote in favor of a distributive justice system that attempts to counteract and balance out the meritocratic economically-based system steadily widening the rich-poor divide by distributing stuff according to needs – the rich get less (but still get something) and the poor get a little more (supported by societal contribution.)

In no way should it completely -replace- option 1 or option 2 (extremes and black-and-whites are unlikely to happen anyway). but I feel that governments and society and the community (ie. humanity as an organised group seeking the overall best for the group) should tilt a little more to option 3 so as not to leave subsets of their populace behind (where they will end up diminishing the health/wealth of the society anyway).

Yeah, uhh, sorry if you were expecting a simple answer. This is wall-of-text city. My brain just can’t pick an option without explanation or thinking deeply.

Would I accept $100 if the other person got $900? If it’s a one-off ‘free’ payment (as in, not given in terms of return salary for work done and stuff like that), then yes.

The alternative is “punishing” everyone and both not getting a cent. I’ll not cut off a hand to spite my face. Both people benefit, and I could use $100. Especially if you take the same problem and increase it in orders of magnitude, I’ll take $1,000, $10,000 and so on, even if the other guy gets the larger share.

Maybe if it were $10 or $1, then I’ll say, nah, because going without that sum isn’t too big of a deal. Chances are likely, though, most people will offer a fairly even split.

What’s probably more important is that for cases of future interaction, one notes the selfish profiteering scrooges as opposed to the equitable ones. I’d want to avoid getting into future exchanges/deals with those that reserve too large a share of the pot for themselves.

But for a one-off, seriously, I’ll take any no-strings-attached hundred bucks you wanna throw my way. :)

I wish I could have favorite midnight snacks. I had a really bad bout of acid reflux a couple years ago and now I obey the oft-repeated advice to stay upright for at least two hours before going to bed, cos reflux really sucks. *sighs* The perils of getting old. I’ll pretend I can, and say a couple spoonfuls of Ben and Jerries’ Chocolate Therapy ice cream. (That’s not that far off a stretch. That’s a favorite teatime or anytime snack.)

A wished-for sequel for a favorite game? Planescape: Torment. (Oh wait.) The Secret of Monkey Island (Hang on.) Guild Wars (Fuck.)

Batman: Arkham Asylum (This is not working, is it?) Defence Grid (*pulls hair out*)

Oh, ok, Grim Fandango, Heavy Rain, and The Wolf Among Us.

I has no MMO home location. I r a nomad.

Beyond a little text room on a MUD that used to be the hangout of my first hardcore guild, when I think of “home” in a game, I think of this place:

My own blogger list, consisting of folks outside what I would term my immediate blog echo chamber (i.e. frequent posting folks who come up with ideas to bounce off, and thus get a lot of link love), but whom I’d love to read more from:

In no particular order (some came on board during NBI and some are old stalwarts whose posting rate has dropped,)

No obligations. Feel free to totally pretend never to have seen this post. I’ll happily take any and all answers from my commenter literati too.

Random questions being made into a list for the hell of it:

  • How much time do you spend gaming each day or each week?
  • How many people do you roughly interact with while gaming, and what’s the extent of your interactions?
  • What emotions do you enjoy experiencing while playing a game?
  • What are some of your favorite genres/settings/worlds to read about in a book?
  • Are they any different from the genres/settings/worlds you might like in a game? (Be it a computer game or a tabletop RPG.)
  • What Warhammer 40k army would you choose (assuming unlimited budget)?
  • ASCII art, yea or nay?
  • Your favorite vegetable, and your most loathed one
  • Unlimited budget, pick one country in the world, that you haven’t been to, that you’d like to visit.
  • You cannot choose a human for your next MMO character. Would you pick a tall race or a short race first? (Width or muscularity, bestial features or lack thereof is up to you.)
  • Wings or no wings?

Go nuts.

Or not.

Up to you.

Postcards from Procedurally Generated Worlds

Syp from Bio Break is asking this about procedural generation:

“If it’s a bunch of cobbled together randomness, then why do I want to explore it? None of it is connected to a special narrative, so it exists without purpose, without meaning.”

I would like to counter with a few things.

Firstly, I wonder if we’ve lost the true meaning of exploration after being taught by Wildstar and GW2 that it’s about getting to points on a map and then having an achievement ding.

Or even after being taught by WoW and Skyrim (and Wildstar and GW2) that it’s about going to someplace and having a handcrafted scripted scene or story play out for you.

That seems to me like going for a tour or a guided experience, rather than exploration per se.

(That’s not to say that it’s bad.

The linearity of The Wolf Among Us and the elegant way its aesthetics told a story with a beginning, middle and end made for a wonderfully -immersive- experience…

…but it’s a bit of a stretch to say that one was -exploring- the game, unless one really sat down to map out every last possible branch of story, or even dabbled with exploration by rewinding a chapter or two to see how the story or characters might change.)

Here’s Google’s definition of exploration:

exploration

The highlights are mine, because I think they rather succintly answer Syp’s question.

You can want to explore something because it’s unfamiliar, because it’s new, because it’s novel. Because you’re checking it out to see if you can find any purpose or meaning in a locale previously unknown to you.

(Many games, when they are new and all their systems and geography unknown, draw explorers like magnets. And once everything is laid out in guides and on third party websites, when all the novelty is lost and everything predictable, that’s where explorers start to get really bored.)

The search for resources or information or knowledge that other people don’t know about is a big deal to explorers. It’s one of the things Bartle checks you out for, before labeling you an explorer.

Many sandbox games dangle resources as the bait for the WHY someone would go out and explore what could be merely a bunch of rocks and sand. Eve Online, A Tale in the Desert, Minecraft, Terraria, Don’t Starve, a ton of other games in the survival crafting genres, need I really go on?

And sometimes you just explore because it’s -there-, because you want to be thorough and make sure you’ve seen its every nook and cranny, because the mountain was there to be climbed, and because the maze or puzzle was there to be figured out and solved.

Not every game has to be played for story and narrative.

Not every player expects a game designer to serve each person the same scripted experience.

Part of the fun in a procedurally generated game is that you yourself may not encounter the exact same thing twice. That your next playthrough can be different. That it can be unpredictable, forcing you to react in a different way.

Others have chimed in with additional points, such as:

  • Purpose and meaning being in the eye of the beholder and that it can be up to each player to create that purpose, meaning and narrative for themselves in a procedurally generated game,
  • that player interactions often form the meat and potatoes of story and narrative in such a game and the very fact that they are unique one-off events that will never quite happen again in the same way can be super-appealing for some people,
  • and that designers can actually use procedural generation in a sensible way and layer set pieces or handcrafted content over other layers that were procedurally generated so that the results look a lot better than what Daggerfall produced in 1996.

But rather than quote the entire Wikipedia article on procedural generation which highlights games like Dwarf Fortress and Left 4 Dead and plenty of other games that use it in interesting ways, I’ll just leave these here:

Minecraft - Wanderlust Reloaded modpack - seed: Bio Break

Minecraft – Wanderlust Reloaded modpack w Biomes of Plenty – seed: Bio Break

Minecraft - Wanderlust Reloaded modpack - seed: Procedural Generation

Minecraft – Wanderlust Reloaded modpack w Biomes of Plenty – seed: Procedural Generation

Minecraft - Wanderlust Reloaded modpack - seed: Bio Break

Minecraft – Running Red 2 modpack – seed: Bio Break

6-2

Minecraft – Test Pack Please Ignore modpack – seed: Bio Break

Your Loss, Syp

Minecraft – Wanderlust Reloaded modpack w Biomes of Plenty – seed: Your Loss, Syp

Minecraft - Wanderlust Reloaded modpack - seed: Bio Break

Minecraft – Wanderlust Reloaded modpack w Biomes of Plenty – seed: Why I Explore

I barely moved from the spawn location to snap these shots.

I rolled these up simply for the purposes of this post.

And I don’t know about you, but there’s at least one seed I’ll be revisiting again that just -cries- out for a story of a survivor shipwrecked onto a mostly desert island with some jungle in the distance.

What does the rest of the continent hold, pray tell?