Landmark: What’s the Point?

I have been following certain threads with interesting titles in the Landmark forums (“Ummm.. so what’s the point of this game?“,  “Progression is frustrating and not very fun“, “Very Unrewarding” ) in the search for various perspectives, while pondering the point of Landmark.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.

I play GW2, a game of lateral progression, and we encounter a great many people who find it difficult to understand the point of GW2, especially after being trained by WoW or other traditional MMOs.

I willingly played A Tale in the Desert, a literal crafting sandbox of -significant- grind which had progression on a mandatory to optional spectrum via a levels unlocking skills system. It appealed to a very niche audience only because other folk couldn’t figure out what to do with themselves in a game with no combat, and which took forever to walk anywhere.

I fully expect there to be a subset of people who will walk into a creative building game, be it Landmark or Minecraft, and go, um… where’s the game? What’s the point? What do I do?!

Some of them will get it if it’s explained to them. A few of them might try it and like it. Still many others will fade away from the game, having decided it’s just not their cup of tea.

I understand that Landmark is more of a “software toy” – if anyone is ancient enough to remember Will Wright and the original Sim family of games and the term as used then. You played with the software as it was, tinkered with whatever parameters you wanted, created your own goals and “what ifs” and then when you were done, you put it down and forgot about it until you got the urge to mess with it again.

Thing is, putting it down and forgetting about it is not a concept that sits very well with MMOs and the desire of its developers to be paid (though other free to play games like League of Legends, TF2 and Dota 2 seem to be doing just fine with a broad base of folks who do that, perhaps since they have a very hardcore cohort who play ’em daily and pay enough to keep development going.)

And that sort of unsettles me and makes me want to lay a finger on what specifically makes me feel that way.

I think I am less worrying about what the exact point of Landmark is (since it can be many things to different people – a place to build, socialize, craft, gather, roleplay, tell a story, design for other players or for future Everquest Next, be creative, indulge in artistic expression, make a virtual home, play with a virtual dollhouse, have an adventure, explore, learn, etc.)…

…but more trying to answer a burning question with incomplete information and stuff that is yet unknown, undecided and/or undetermined.

And that question is: Should I be investing my time or money into this game?

Of course, that answer is different for different people.

Some people have even willingly spent $100 on its Alpha stage. They were happy to pay for the privilege of being involved in the game’s development from the ground up, have a voice (such as it is) in where the game is going, to playtest with unpolished tools and systems and be the first guinea pigs (or *ahem* first to get to play around with the game or have a headstart), to create and design and maybe, just maybe, have it included in Everquest Next. They’re dedicated fans of the franchise and the studio.

I mean, if you asked me if I would do the same for ArenaNet and Guild Wars, I’d -seriously- give it some thought. (Though the initial payment would put me off.)

But here’s the thing, I’m not them. And since this is my blog, we’ll dig into my perspective today while I try to get it sorted out in my own head.

I didn’t pay for Alpha. I didn’t pay for Beta. What kind of game would I pay or not pay for?

WoW’s design is primarily a raid endgame centred around vertical progression of gear. Eve Online encourages very dubious player behavior and morality in its design. For me, the answer to both is no. Because I don’t want to support games whose design I’m not in favor of.

Other people play them, and pay for them, and keep both games going just fine. To each their own.

I paid and played games like City of Heroes, Guild Wars 1 & 2, A Tale in the Desert, Minecraft, but not games like Wurm Online or Darkfall or Fallen Earth.

I generally support games that foster friendly and cooperative groups and social experiences in their design, but also give leeway to solo at one’s choosing. I’m drawn like a moth flies toward light to games that show off innovative design and interesting novel systems to play with and learn, but I’m turned off by games that have room for nonconsensual PvP, take forever to progress or get anywhere (aka too much time grind) or are sluggish and buggy.

My fascination for grokking systems may see me knowingly put up with some annoying game design choices. at least for a short while.

Mob Wars: La Cosa Nostra is one example. I played it religiously for a month, logging in every day, doing all the stuff, incrementing numerically for the sake of incrementing numerically, but one day I just decided to skip a day. It stretched to two. Three. Then I didn’t bother logging in anymore. The addiction/compulsion was gone. Gimmick design works for a while, and then it loses its hold, especially when you break the habitual pattern formed and find other more prioritized things to do.

I put up with quite a bit of crap in A Tale in the Desert. The endless running across large tracts of land, for one. I avoided doing that as much as possible, and credit to the game, it wasn’t excessively forced. Mostly because the multiple systems and minigames in ATITD just kept blowing my mind. Each required days to learn and probably months or more to master. Observing the social interactions and conflict between cooperation and competition was so fascinating that I was willing to put up with a few not-so-comfortable things, since there was nowhere else to get the same experience in more convenient form. And there were always many lateral progression options and ways to get regular feelings of accomplishing something too.

As for Landmark, well, I can’t quite get a proper grip on what kind of a game it is and where it intends to be going, leaving the existing Closed Beta experience sitting smack dab in the middle of the Play-Don’t Play spectrum.

You see, for MMOs, I want to know that the game is still going to be around for a bit and popular enough to have some people playing it, for me to want to invest time, money and energy into playing it. How is Landmark going to work, exactly?

I’ve kind of read the Blueprint. But it still leaves me with questions as to what exactly the game is going to entail.

Harsh death penalty and PvP are big twitching red flags for me, for example. Waste too much of my time, threaten me with resource loss, and your game goes right into the Eve Online pile. It may be a great simulationist sandbox in the vein of all those others, but Trammel killed Ultima Online for a reason. If you can still find your niche to play and pay, all power to you. I’ll just not be there.

(The Everquest brand is not particularly promising on this front. Time-wasters and harsh penalties aplenty. And Landmark is already actively showing signs of time-wasting.)

How is the payment model of the game going to work? What kind of economy is going to drive this game? What types of playstyles and gameplay niches are we expecting to see?

The Bartle model may not be the most ideal one to use, for this sort of game. This is pretty much unexplored territory for triple A MMOs – it’s more the purview of games (*ahem* “virtual worlds”) like Second Life and Neverwinter Nights (the old one, with the Aurora toolset that players created content with) and maybe multiplayer Minecraft.

Here’s my best guess on what playstyles we might see in Landmark:

  • Adventurer – resource collectors, explorers, seeking thrills, adventure, exciting experiences
  • Builders/Designers – artist builders, artisan builders, home builders
  • Roleplayers/Storytellers – using the world to create and tell stories of their own choosing
  • Crafter?

I am a so-called Adventurer. In truth, I’m probably a harvester-gatherer. I collect resources and enable the larger game to function. I may have to put up with some grindy aspects via number accumulation and vertical progression tiers. I ought to be able to walk in and play for free in Landmark because I pay in time. (Caveat: I am not SOE, I do not come up with their payment models.) I exist as content for the other more dedicated players because I bulk up the game with more player population to socialize with, to admire their constructions and perhaps run their scripted dungeons/adventures/experience the stories they want to tell (assuming those systems come in.)

My payoffs? I should be able to sell or trade resources to the other players who need them… but in exchange for… what? I need an in-game marketplace or auction house or trading exchange. Perhaps I can trade for some amount of currency or Station Cash that enables me to keep a small-sized claim and cross over to the other playstyles. I should be getting in return the thrill of adventure, the fun of exploration, some sense of accomplishment, the excitement and novelty of seeing what’s over the next hill and around the next corner, etc.

Builders are a pretty broad category, since this is, after all, a building game:

I am an artist builder. I want to make large towering works of art out of voxels. I need large-sized or multiple claims. I need lots of resources. I have the option of buying templates from the Player Studio like windows, railings, decorations and more to copy-paste stamp them into larger pieces. My payoffs? I get to express myself artistically and show off works of great beauty. I develop a name and reputation for myself.  I perhaps contribute to parts of scenery in Everquest Next (assuming that’s a plus in your perspective, having paid $$ for the privilege.)

Seabiscuit's Blackheart Castle is an example. (Image taken from screenshot on forums thread linked.)
Seabiscuit’s Blackheart Castle is an example. (Image taken from screenshot on forums thread linked above.)

Big question is: Am I going to have to pay real life money out the nose for these things? If so, why should I be choosing this game to build in? Minecraft is looming as the equivalent of WoW in the creative building genre, and it’s buy to play. More such games are on the way as competitors.

I am an artisan builder, I make works of art that can serve as templates to be used in larger pieces. Besides all the regular perks of the artist builder – name and rep, EQN contribution, creative expression, etc., my payoff is potentially selling them in the Player Studio (assuming you live in the correct country for it), or the satisfaction of giving them freely away to others to see them used in larger works of art.

Image from forum poster Gizeh - Alpha Thread on Template Swap meets.
Image from forum poster Gizeh – Alpha Thread on Template Swap meets.

(There can be, of course, plenty of overlap between artisan and artist builder playstyles in the same person. Or the other playstyles, for that matter. The more playstyles one enjoys, the closer match Landmark is going to be for one – though I don’t know how much more money you’re going to end up paying. But we’re separating them here for clarity.)

homebuilder

I am a home builder. I have a vision of something I want to build – likely a house or a castle or something cool for me to stay in. I likely value environmental immersion of some kind. I may not be that great artistically. I might be able to supplement my not-so-great artistic skills with a few choice templates bought off the Player Studio, or trading in-game resources with artisans and artists, or even getting them free off social interaction (providing value by being there as a player.) I will probably be willing to foot a small upkeep for a small to medium claim, though having the option to pay in in-game resources might be better for a subset of these players.

What happens though when I am “done?” When I have created the house I want? What do I do next? Stop playing? Move to another playstyle, assuming I can find one that matches?

I am a roleplayer/storyteller. I tell stories and make them up using the game’s voxels and props. I interact with other players in some fashion, be it via chat or posting on the forums. (See a great example in progress here with a builder/immersive roleplayer combined in one person, creating some very natural constructions to tell a story in time.) My payoff is the stories I create and the people that see/view/experience them.

Eventually, assuming scripting and NPCs make it into Landmark, we’ll have crossover designer/builder/storytellers that will be similar to GameMasters of tabletop roleplaying games, designing adventures for others to experience – probably similar to how existing player-created content in other MMOs like Neverwinter Foundry or adventure mods in Minecraft work.

Crafting is the part that still puzzles me at this point. It seems to exist for the sake of existing and time-wasting. Here’s a bunch of technology trees. Go get the required number of resources and then come back and click a button to make it. You need to do it to unlock other things, like the tools you want for other playstyles.

Maybe, just maybe, one might have a dedicated crafter niche who pretty much goes out to collect resources and bring them back to craft, and then trades the finished, desirable products to others? Like those elusive Legendary picks and axes?

I dunno though. There is one danger of trying to add such niches though, taking lessons from A Tale in the Desert, there is the possibility that time-plentiful veterans will learn how to do it all, and do it much more quickly than newbies. This leaves newbies with nothing of value to offer veteran players.

How does the food chain function here?

Are there going to be enough players willing to pay for convenience and shortcuts to make up for playstyles that they don’t want to crossover to?

Are the rich folks on the very top willing to pay lots of money for what? Vanity? Prestige?

On one hand, lots of cosmetic options in other games say yes, there might be sufficient people willing to pay for pretty dresses. On the other hand, Glitch did die from lack of participation in the clothing shop and insufficient thought about a viable payment model…

I guess what I’m wondering at this point is… what’s the Landmark demographic going to be like? How much of each playstyle is there? Is there going to be a viable monetization strategy, and how acceptable is that strategy going to be for the various playstyles? And is it going to be enough to keep Landmark afloat and/or making oodles of cash?

And even, -does- Landmark need to stay afloat or make oodles of cash, or will it be shielded by SOE as the parent company, bundling the game along with its All Access Pass and/or profiting from whatever is designed in Landmark going into EQ Next?

Back to me. I’m not much of an artist builder, I can tell you that.

Nor am I much of a home builder. I can’t seem to understand the compulsion to build a pretty virtual house to stay in.

Seriously, everywhere I go, the early beginnings of a house of some kind.
Seriously, everywhere I go, the early beginnings of a house of some kind.

Further thought reveals that I am more of a -functional- builder. I build stuff to fulfill some kind of in-game need.

Zombies going to eat my face at night in Minecraft? Well, I better hack a hole into a cliff and hide in it. Or build walls to surround myself. And I may as well put a door in it so I can get in and out more easily.

frontdoor

Eri can tell you that in Terraria, my hobbit hole is good enough for me. Design and decorate a castle? Umm… no.

Landmark may not fit that building playstyle as well. Perhaps only mining for ores and designing those temporary tunnels into cave systems might fit.

Yeah, caving for mines has some promise. Though a) desert underground gets weirdly colored - bug? and b) if it's going to take forever to find enough ores for stuff, then that's not fun either.
Yeah, mining tunnels for ore, in conjunction with upcoming caves, has some promise. Though a) desert underground gets weirdly colored – bug? and b) if it’s going to take forever to find enough ores for stuff, then that’s not fun either.

Or for example, hacking a hole into the ground because I want more studio space but don’t want weird geometric creations floating in the air ruining my nice wilderness desert landscape immersion.

Not so secret hidey-hole. I made some steps for the unwary, in case they fall in.
Not so secret hidey-hole. I made some basic steps for the unwary, in case they fall in.

I suppose I -could- learn to be a bit of an artisan builder. Experimenting with microvoxels and seeing what kinds of odd geometric shapes get produced is pretty much the only thing keeping me hooked to Landmark at present.

Other people build houses. I build... um...phallic structures. They're wannabe obelisks, I swear!
Other people build houses. I build… um…phallic structures. They’re wannabe obelisks, I swear!

I probably couldn’t produce anything worth selling – far more skilled players could probably recreate them in no time flat – and besides, I bet Player Studio will never quite open for my country, with all those legalese concerns.

Problem is, the tools and various controls as they exist in Beta are somewhat awkward and not very smooth or intuitive to use.

One example and big culprit here is Shift-Tab to switch between translate, rotate and scaling, plus Tab for the directions. Having twisted my wrist far too often to the left to reach Shift+Tab one too many times, I gave up and wrote an AutoHotkey macro to keybind them elsewhere.

If you’re interested in it, it’s here:

r::Tab

q::
SendInput {LShift down}{Tab down}
SendInput {LShift up}{Tab up}
return

You can replace R and Q with whatever keys you want.

I have an entire profile on my mouse dedicated to Landmark, just to give myself two buttons for left-click (Button 5 uses the thumb and spares my index finger when it starts to scream), and to bind Numlock (Autorun? Who puts that -there?- Obviously I don’t play Everquest!) to the middle mouse button and button 4, which I use in GW2 and has become natural.

Proper keybinding cannot come soon enough in Landmark. No idea how Alpha players put up without it.

Said building tools have quirks that some dedicated builders are learning and sharing. Apparently all I had to do to fix my misshapen arch which was bumpy on one side, was to just copy the good side and mirror it. But how did I get a misshapen arch in the first place? The circle used to cut the arch and the smoothing tool used to round out the arch wasn’t consistent on either side.

The line tool acts funny. Hours are spent by players trying to work around it – avoiding holes in conical roofs, while some other player shows off how they got a straight one-voxel diagonal line from manipulating and cut-and-pasting microvoxels…

It all begs the question: Should I invest my time learning to build here, with its unique idiosyncrasies, or spend my time learning how to use a free alternative like Sketchup or Blender instead (which admittedly uses polygonal modeling, not voxels) or locating voxel modeling software or just build for fun in creative mode Minecraft when I can spawn all the blocks I desire without paying real money or grinding hours for it?

How about the other playstyles?

I confess to being weird and not minding mining or chopping wood. I find it oddly meditative.

But I don’t like feeling forced to go get them in order to get the next tier and the next tier of stuff – that just feels like busywork. I’m not really fond of game design that just exists to waste one’s time – it’s a carryover from subscription-based MMOs that shouldn’t exist in free-to-play ones.

Also, my system is truly on the low-end of the spec pool when it comes to Landmark, and starting and stopping with crashing framerates, falling through the floor and just plain crashing, or getting stuck on loadscreens and having to force the client to re-draw by hitting ctrl+alt+delete and canceling makes me think that I simply can’t participate in an Adventurer playstyle until I have the funds to upgrade to a better computer.

(Pushing the envelope is all very well, but that does restrict the playerbase some. EQ2 was reportedly less popular due to the need for high graphics capability at the time, whereas WoW’s popularity took off into a cult phenomenon – one of the foundational reasons being that people with low end computers still could play and enjoy it.)

I still have big unanswered questions about PvP, griefing and how other players are going to be able to affect you. Big questions about death penalties and potential resource loss, microtransactions and planned payment model. Other questions like:

Will my favored playstyle(s) be available for free, or low to reasonable cost?

Otherwise, why should I start now and invest the time to learn this game?

Well, don’t start now then, some people will reply.

Fair enough, I could just pack up everything, let whatever’s on my claim save into a template (assuming it does, apparently anti-voxels and negative space don’t?) and let the upkeep expire to make room for others. Log out and wait to log in later.

But fundamentally, I’m a little antsy about what the answers to the following questions are going to be:

Why should I spend a good amount of time on this game?

Unnecessary timesinks. Is that valuing my time? (I want to build creative designs unhindered by said timesinks, would be a better answer.)

Why should I keep playing?

Upkeep. In order not to lose stuff in 5 days?  (Or, because there are fun things to do that cater to multiple playstyles in-game?)

If SOE swings one way, Landmark would be dropped like a hot potato. By me, at any rate.

The other way has more promise.

But it’s all a big uncertain gamble right now, isn’t it?

GW2: Super Adventure Box Success

I think the biggest compliment that I can give the Super Adventure Box is that I’m late in blogging about it.

Every available hour of mine was spent IN the box, playing like a madman, rather than have any leisure time to sit back and think/reflect/write about it.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1) Group AND Solo Friendly

I don’t actually run many dungeons in GW2. Having to hook up with 4 other players and perform up to a certain standard makes me a nervous wreck, because I take quite a long time to learn and master stuff. I am thus very overjoyed to find any sort of adventure instance that can be soloed as well as grouped, and am pleased to say all the new event instances are turning out this way.

The time I’m most open to grouping is when the place is new to all. My first taste of the Super Adventure Box was taken this way, with four other friendly guildies hooked up by voice chat, and I must say, this was one of the better ways to experience the SAB when one is new.

Five excited people running in all directions at once, hopping on anything that looked jumpable. A friend at your side to help distract mobs or circle around them for additional hits. Rabid bunny killing stirred up a bunado, with resultant chaos. The better jumpers able to lead the less sure ones along the path, and help them by dropping mushrooms. Additional eyes to discover secrets, and five person coordination to get sufficient keys and hit a chest at the same time.

However, the problems of a group soon become evident as well. Different playstyles threaten to clash. We had one member who was a very good jumper and looked very interested in finding out every last secret of an area – this made him very late to any checkpoint. I consider myself a not-terribly good jumper, but also highly interested in finding out every last secret, so I alternated between falling behind and getting a little lost, joining two or three other guys at the checkpoint and milling around restlessly, and then cheerfully running out of there at the first call of the other explorer saying that he found something. Two other members seemed to be good or average jumpers, but also basic Achievement-focused, so the moment they saw a bright shiny checkpoint, they wanted to be there, rather than killing every last mob in the area. And the last was a not-terribly-great jumper either, so he too shared some of the embarrassment of being the last one to a location – for which I was fairly thankful, else it would have been me all the time.

The difference in priority could be seen at the area with two checkpoints. Three members were happy to chill out at the lower checkpoint, while the two secret hunters were eager to see what the upper checkpoint was like. This resulted in us taking some 40-60 minutes a zone, and eventually stretched the schedule limit of a number of party members, who ended up tiring of the endless jumps (and the increasing difficulty making more folks fall) near the third zone, where one or two of us were attempting the series of bouncing mushrooms that eventually would lead to the elite skill Moto’s Breath, though we didn’t know it at the time. The party broke up one checkpoint shy of King Toad.

After that, I was content to solo my way through the Super Adventure Box. It gave me a better sense of control. I could obsessively dig up every last inch of ground without feeling like I was holding up someone. It’s more of a personal challenge that way too, as you and solely you are responsible for timing your attacks and movement just right and reading and avoiding the attack patterns of the mobs. I think I spent some 7 hours in there exploring before looking up any guides – so it’s good that I didn’t force anyone else to do this with me.

I did a basic run through all the zones with infantile mode turned on, just so I could see the whole thing, kill King Toad and get the lay of the land.

Getting comfy with King Toad's patterns on rainbow easy mode.
Getting comfy with King Toad’s patterns on rainbow easy mode.

It netted a heart increase, which was nice.

Then I spent some 2-3+ hours covering each zone with a fine tooth comb, also on infantile mode, working my way through the secret room and every last bauble achievements. Zone 1 was completed with no guide reference, and I gave up after some three attempts at zone 2 – first I missed a whole lot of baubles that I didn’t know existed, then the last bauble at the shortcut worm’s end stumped and taunted me, then I missed -one- secret room on my most comprehensive hours-long zone sweep (cue immense immense rage.)

I went for the guides after that, and zone 2 was completed with a lot less rage and time. Zone 3’s jumps were pretty difficult for me so I went for the bauble checklist guide too. Along this time-consuming exploratory quest for all the achievements, I upgraded pretty much everything.

I’m happy to say that I’m now very comfortable with zone 1 and 2, getting comfortable with zone 3, and am working on learning the rapids. Yesterday I switched to normal mode to get the daily chests and it went like a breeze after all the time invested getting familiar with the areas.

2) Supports Different Playstyles

I find it very amusing sometimes just how different players can be. Me, I’m playing the zones mostly because they are there (and they are NEW) and I was driven primarily by desiring the Distinction in Applied Jumping title for my asura and secondarily, by learning the area and finding cool secrets. Skins? Yeah, some are nice, and I’m sure I’ll get 50 of the special baubles before the month is out, but I’m not in a rush.

What I really like to do is take my time and figure out how to get up to strange places others wouldn't bother with. (The first mushroom can help you bounce up here. Alas, haven't found any secret baubles here yet.)
What I really like to do is take my time and figure out how to get up to strange places others wouldn’t bother with. (The first mushroom can help you bounce up here. Alas, haven’t found any secret baubles here yet.)

Others are driven by the desire for the skins – so you see them speedrunning the zone, going straight for the end chests, deleting and making new characters to run through SAB, or figuring out the most efficient way to farm up baubles. Not that any of this is wrong. I think it’s great that the same content is keeping a whole bunch of different playstyles amused. (Just don’t make me group with you, please.)

Different others are happy to find that skins are available on the TP and have just bought what they wanted and discarded the SAB like a rotten tomato. Or some are just farming the Super Mysterious boxes out in the open world.

3) Completely Optional / Has Alternate Means to Same Goal

See above. For those who utterly cannot jump, for whatever reason, there are still ways to get the rewards if desired.

Also, the presence of several jumping paths that will get you there in the end. There are one or two high risk dodge-jump or die places. Or take a longer route to the same place.

Zone 2 posits an interesting dilemma for me – take shortcut worm to the end, or do the longer route and dig up secret baubles (of which I can get 40 + 50 so far, and I’m sure more will be discovered as time goes by.)

4) Adjustable Difficulty Levels

Let me just say this here. THANK YOU FOR INFANTILE MODE.

It may be a slap in the face to the developer who spent all his time devising the fiendish jumps, but this is how you make your content accessible for people. Give them a stepping stone to learn and get comfortable with just absorbing a few things at one time.

To be frank, I probably would have stuck with it on normal mode as the jumps seem pitched just about right-to-challenging for my current level of skill, but I would have raged a lot more while trying for the achievements. And probably written a rant here and there about it too.

However, I have a friend whom has just gotten into the game, and I -know- his keyboard dexterity and sense of platforming timing and avatar coordination is not at my level. (This may change as he gets more familiar with the game or does a lot of jumping, but as of now, yeah..) If he and I ever get around to playing the SAB together, I’m sure there will be a lot less stress and frustration if we attempted it on the easy mode. That’s the point of one, though. So that more people can still have a similar experience with the content and have fun – if lesser rewards. And I appreciate that one can earn upgrades on easy mode so that one is better equipped for normal mode.

As for myself, after three solid days of plugging away at it with the rainbow slide to catch me if I fell, I think I’m ready to graduate to normal mode, and by next week, I probably will be happy to take on the grumpy cloud and the hinted-at may-come-in-the-near-future hard mode.

5) Perfect Nostalgic Platforming Parody (Music, Graphics, et. al.)

Let’s not forget our praise of the aesthetics. The bright cheerful colors brought to mind Minecraft and Super Mario immediately, I was in hysterics watching the Princess getting kidnapped intro cutscene, the 8-bit music a perfect accompaniment to all the jumping. I especially -cannot- do the Rapids area without listening to the music, it fits so well.

The rapids raft sequence was fucking awesome. I was in a flow state of sheer ninja-ness by the end of it. I'm sure it'll have been even better with more people, but haven't found anyone with the same priorities yet.
The rapids raft sequence was fucking awesome. I was in a flow state of sheer pointy stick ninja-ness by the end of it. I’m sure it’ll have been even better with more people, but haven’t found anyone with the same priorities yet.

Even the fungus zone 3 gave me creepy Eversion vibes, which was cool.

6) Helps Me to Up My Game

I tweaked a keybind for the Super Adventure Box, can you believe it?

I was determined to learn how to dodge jump.

I’d taken dodge off V long ago, because that key is much more useful firing off a utility skill (along with X and C.)

I always double tap to evade. I’m used to it from other games, I find it fast and I can choose a direction to go in. I do jumping puzzles with it on, because I want to learn how to deal with it and not make those nervous shifting motions that always result in a dodge roll off a teeny branch into screaming falling oblivion.

But I can’t dodge jump with double tap.

After scrutinizing my keys, I decided to remove my least used “Target Ally” key on R (sorry folks, good thing you don’t often need targeted heals from me anyway) and replaced it with dodge.

After further trial and error and much cursing and swearing, I eventually got dodge jump to work about 50% of the time by striving to bang on R and space simultaneously, while going forward. It could be latency at work here, because I doubt I’ll ever get it to a point where it will work 90-100% of the time, it just doesn’t feel responsive or reliable enough. Either that or my Charr animations just don’t flip into the somersault that often because their running-on-all-fours animation conflicts with it or whatever – gonna try it on an Asura later and see if that’s better.

However, 50% of the time is functional enough to get to places I previously couldn’t.

Near the end of Zone 1: cleared the trees of all the monkeys. Dodge jump from tall tree to tall tree to get to the end. I was disappointed there was nothing to dig up at the end of this.
Near the end of Zone 1: cleared the trees of all the monkeys. Dodge jump from tall tree to tall tree to get to the end. I was sad there was nothing to dig up at the end of this. Maybe in hard mode, eh?

Which is 100% better than before.

It’s interesting to note that I’ve gotten most of the obsession out of my system after nabbing the Distinction in Applied Jumping title. I actually visited WvW yesterday, something I abandoned for two days running to go SAB-crazy. I’ll probably be content to do this at a more casual pace now.

As for all those calling for it to stay for good, I’ll beg to differ. I think the sporadic event nature of it helps to draw people into it. Keeping it always available will eventually lead to it being a ghost town as players get bored and accustomed to it. I think a month is a very fair time for it to stick around. GW1 festivals were only one or two weeks or so and harder to accomplish anything with if you weren’t a daily hardcore player.

I do like the Super Adventure Box though. I like it a lot. I’ll be awaiting the next expansions to it whenever they arrive. (Just please leave baby-steps mode in.)

I liked it so much that I spent $10 on 800 gems this month and bought the no-lockbox lottery no-Mystic Toilet Super Minis to show my support for it. (I like the glow, thanks. The spider’s idle animation is awesome, I think my Asura will keep it as a pet. The monkey running animation is a great match with my on-fours Charr. The less said about the very odd Bee Dog, the better. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.)

I’m sure it pales in comparison to how much money players have been throwing at the black lion keys for fused weapon skins, but well, wallet votes are wallet votes.