GW2: Prioritizing Things To Do, Post-Heart of Thorns

wyvernvsfrogs

We’re about two weeks into the Heart of Thorns expansion. I guess now’s a time as good as any to finally come up for air.

The 64-bit client has worked wonders for me as a stopgap measure to stave off memory leak crashes (at last, upgrading to Windows 7 and a new computer with 16GB of RAM has been rewarded.)

On average, it chomps about 3-3.5 GB of RAM just doing normal things and goes up to about 4-4.5GB consumed during insanely packed meta events where a hundred players are in the vicinity, all sporting their own combination of wardrobe and dyes and particle effects.

Bright side, it doesn’t crash (at least, not yet, *touches wood*)

(I stress tested it the other day by walking into the Svanir Shaman Frozen Maw daily with full default graphics and name tags on. I figure, if it doesn’t freeze up and die then, it’s probably okay.)

Thus I get to see more of Heart of Thorns on a graphical setting beyond potato.

halfabreacher

Granted, it’s rather hard to frame a screenshot sans UI when you’re worried about getting randomly gibbed by a Mordrem sniper, a punisher, or *urgh* a stalker.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve become rather relaxed about goals in the expansion.

A seasonal cadence of two weeks/four weeks lent a level of stress that encouraged me to grind out all the rewards I wanted “before it went away.” There was a “limited-time” pressure that was sometimes obvious and sometimes subconscious, which made me more prone to frustration and impatience.

Faced with a deluge of possible rewards to buy and skins to collect, one would think that I’d be freaking out right about now, but knowing its permanence (assuming the HoT zones stay unchanged reward-wise as long as Dry Top and Silverwastes has existed is likely a safe bet), I’ve been looking on most of it as a long term goal. The slow chase will likely last me another year, if not two, and I’m okay with that.

If anything, I’ve been confronted by that age-old lateral progression bugaboo that we veterans keep advising newbies about: “Help! I’ve reached X threshold, and there are so many things to do! What should I be doing first?!”

My usual naggy refrain to these folks is that beyond a certain point (ie. get exotic armor as a baseline, strive towards Ascended trinkets and more,) we can’t really tell you what to do next because it all depends on what you value and want to prioritize.

Like story? Like dungeons? Like shiny skins? Like gold? They all head down different roads.

Similarly, I look at Heart of Thorns and I’m like, “Masteries? AP achievments? Raids (be it prep for the closed ones, or open world ones?) Gold + Relaxation? (So many nodes to hit, so much money players are willing to spend *twitches compulsively*) Shinies? (Like chase a HoT skin collection, a core Tyria legendary, a core Tyria precursor, or prep for a Maguuma legendary?) So many collections? Aaahhh collect all the things? *falls over dizzy like Skritt in Tarir*”

So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and prioritize my own shit:

  • New Stuff
  • Raids (while new)
  • Harvest Nodes
  • AP
  • Certain shiny objects
  • Gold
  • Masteries
  • Collect all the things
  • Raids (when they’ve gotten old)

This totally non-scientific list was mostly ordered by just choosing two things at random, eg. “Chase AP or Harvest Nodes to Relax” or “Chase AP or Gold?” and deciding which one I valued more, or which I’d pick if I could only do one thing that day.

It’s a little fuzzy around the edges, because technically, harvesting nodes is my main gold stream, but given the amount of gold I’m liable to invest into chasing AP or if the gold had to come from other sources like chasing events or doing dungeons, then certainly I’d choose to focus on easier AP goals first.

Yet if you were to ask me if I’d prefer harvesting nodes to chasing AP, I’d only have to look at my still undone Golden Badges in the Silverwastes to tell you that I’ve been hitting all the nodes first over something like that. Eventually I’ll buckle down and shove that priority up a tad, but as a general guideline, the above list works for me.

New stuff goes without saying for me. I was camped out in Tangled Depths over two weekends and quite a number of weeknights trying to bring down the Chak Gerents (all four of them.)

potatogerent

It may be potato graphics, but this reward chest has never looked shinier.

tdhole

The end result of succeeding the meta was mostly a great big hole blasted through to Dragon’s Stand, a couple of crystallized cache chests and a strongbox made accessible. Plus a piece of Mistward something that’s presumably used for making Mistward armor, when I get around to it. (Probably around the time I finally get around to making a Revenant.)

Once that succeeded once, it was like a great big load fell off my mind and I could start voluntarily choosing to ignore some raid sessions, knowing that more would be organized every day / every week. There would be time to accumulate the zone currency gradually. Now I could prioritize other things with my GW2 play time to catch up on other stuff.

Some of that involves getting more or less prepped for the impending *ugh* closed 10-man raids to hit GW2.

I’m still looking on that activity with a fair amount of dread – mostly because it’s hellish to try and match timezones and turn up at a regular schedule, plus there’s always that rejection feeling from an activity with such small number limits.

(Look at how guild missions have been complained about, when they inadvertently only reward 15 players, leaving the other… oh… 35 people who showed up feeling jipped? Or left repeating the same goddamn guild puzzle over and over until maybe most people get their reward, except a few that seem permanently glitched? Speaking of which, they really need to get around to fixing that. So bloody annoying. I was certainly never one who asked for them to make guild missions closed instances.)

Everyone’s also kinda dreading their reward scheme for raids – many because it seems like Anet’s reward adjustments feel like throwing darts at a dartboard while blindfolded, rather than following any sort of real plan.

Me, I’m bloody terrified that it’s going to be a one-way no-alternate-path “forcing” of players into their shiny new activity that they are so damn proud of and want to collect salty player tears on (What’s going on with that adversarial relationship anyway?)

Take the sudden account-binding of Nuhoch Hunting Stashes and fractal thingumies (I haven’t done fractals seriously post-expansion, I have no idea what’s been going on there.)

I had -thought- it was a clever way to provide players an alternate route to gaining currencies for activities they’d rather not prefer to engage in, while giving players who LIKE those activities an income stream from the players who hate it but want some of the rewards from that activity anyway. Meanwhile, the trade sinks gold via the TP. Win win, no?

No. Apparently, if you want Heart of Thorns zone currencies, you better just grit your teeth and grind events. Vice versa for fractals, though with all the bitterness coming from that front, it doesn’t exactly encourage me to do that activity until everything is given another look.

I don’t know.

My assumption is they’ll keep freaking iterating until they get it right, and we only need to wait until then, but damn, this iteration is SLOW.

In the meantime, I may as well do stuff that’s right in front of me, not get baited by a million and one design traps, and freak out only when there’s solid info to get grumpy about. (Like how I can’t actually prioritize a precursor rifle hunt because some poor bastard who wanted to do it first found out that bits of it were buggy and don’t work.)

One example of those things right in front of me is the revelation that I’m really most comfortable on my charr guardian as a main – I haven’t been playing any other character through Heart of Thorns for any long period of time – so I may as well take some small steps in getting him raid-ready. Like an Ascended greatsword and possibly a mace too – he already has an Ascended sword/focus and scepter/torch, but it’s been super-obvious that Heart of Thorns really really likes you to go AoE in certain scenarios… bottom line, guardian greatswords can do that and my nerfed (but pretty) Fiery Dragon Sword just can’t cut it.

I’ve a warrior and necromancer alt that also needs to be run through Heart of Thorns, and pushed towards raid-readiness, so that’s something to be doing too.

Considering that my warrior still hasn't finished the personal story, that's quite a bit of story chapters to go.
Considering that my warrior still hasn’t finished the personal story, that’s quite a bit of story chapters to go. It’s kinda nice to replay it all again, now that they’ve finally fixed the flow and put back the “greatest fear” arc, after leaving it broken for…how long?

Masteries, thankfully, I’ve knocked out most of the crucial ones, which leaves the nice-to-haves as a slow goal to work toward while doing other things.

Between that, attending open world raids, and maybe replaying the story for achievements, chasing mastery points and hero points for elite specs and harvesting all the things while the guild hall material demand is sending the economy into wild swings, I shouldn’t run out of still-viable things to do while waiting for fixes and iterations to the more egregious issues that have arisen, seemingly all over the game.

Looks like everyone, devs and players alike, will be quite busy until next year.

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Darkwing Tigercharr!
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Darkwing Tigercharr! (God, I love the charr gliding animation. It’s like they’re pouncing on some mice below. Also, winged cats are awesome. Not very immersion-y, but eh, that boat sailed a long time ago. Still awesome.)

Blaugust Day 21: Sleep is for the Weak, and They’re All Ok By Me (On Gaming Priorities and Balance)

Yesterday, I managed to discover one thing I prioritized over writing a blog post and meeting the Blaugust deadline: SLEEP.

It was 9pm on a Friday night, all the time in the world to scratch out a blog post really, but since I’ve been nursing a mild cold that only fills up half a trash can full of tissues (as opposed to nastier ones that devours boxes of tissues and fills a trash can to overflowing) and feeling moderately woozy (which could also have been caffeine withdrawal from two Starbucks lattes downed mid-week to speed up the work day…)

…I looked from computer to bed, and bed to computer, and then said, “Forget it. Tomorrow’s Saturday. I’ll knock out two posts.”

The extra 2-3 hours feels really good this morning though. I suspect I’d been shaving off an hour or two the last few days and accumulating sleep deprivation that way.

Funnily enough, before I crashed, I managed to make time to knock out GW2 dailies and attend guild missions (and Trove dailies while feeling grumpy about how long weekly guild missions were taking this Friday.)

And dinner, of course. And a shower. Before game. Then sleep. Because health.

In my roundabout way, I’m trying to figure out how to segue into a topic that part of the blogosphere’s been talking about lately: Gaming priorities.

  • Apparently Izlain and Eri started it, with a Couch Potatoes AMA, where they talk about regrets from their gaming habits. (Which I will admit I have not prioritized any time to listen to, so am quoting off someone else’s summary. I’m a poor audio learner, ok?)
  • Braxwolf picks up the thread, where he wonders about the impact of having too many sources of short-term gratification tempting our younger generations and if this stands in the way of them being able to endure hardship for long term benefits.
  • Rowan Blaze adds on to it, pointing out that gaming is just one of a myriad other activities that it is possible to become obsessed with or addicted to, at the expense of other things. He goes on to cover gaming and its possible effects on relationships.

Then there are other posts that aren’t explicitly about gaming priorities, but seem to me to be related:

  • James over at Goobbue Crossing is feeling the grind in GW2, flooded with currencies he has little present use for and can’t figure out, and feeling under-motivated (and not really rewarded) to get past the learning hump.

Plus pretty much any and every other post that laments the fact that there are too many games out there (including those on one’s Steam list) and/or the need to focus playing only a few of those at any one time, and/or the challenge of finding enough hours in the day to knock out a blog post in addition to the above.

I find myself in total agreement with Syl’s comment over at Braxwolf’s:

There’s always something to learn in nature and it so happens that in nature too, substances that can heal you very often can harm/kill you too (aka ‘the dose makes the poison’). Games or rather escapism through games, has the potential to do a lot of good in a person’s life; it can get them through a time of hardship and tragedy, it can cure them of loneliness and insecurity. For a time. Until it stops doing these things and becomes the opposite.

The keyword is balance. Sometimes you know when to stop and re-balance, sometimes you’ll learn the hard way… It’s never too late to look at your life and change things if you really want to, especially if you’re still young and capable.

Moderation and balance, and becoming clearer in what you value, and thus should prioritize.

It’s easy to see that in Braxwolf’s case, one of his values is long-term benefits/greater good over immediate hedonistic happiness, and Rowan strongly values his relationship with Scooter, for example.

I can totally relate with James’ currency flood feeling, every time I try to get back to LOTRO, my bags overflow with things I’m sure I don’t need to bother with right yet, but have no idea where to put them in the meantime, and it feels like a hurdle I’m not willing to cross because some things about LOTRO just don’t appeal to me as much as other MMOs.

I try to play Eve Online, and while the learning hump there feels like a fun challenge to get over, I usually end up asking myself, but why would I do it? I would be paying a subscription (or grinding isk for one) to basically be someone else’s content, because I’m not really motivated by socializer or killer preferences. I’d be better off playing an MMO that hits my more favored Explorer or Achiever tendencies, and does so in a less directly competitive manner.

Different people may value different things more highly, and prioritize them differently as a result. It’s really all about balancing what we value first, and not let any of them take the upper hand and overwhelm everything else that we also value.

And if that does happen, well, it’s a learning experience… learned the hard way.

I dunno, but I rarely frame these things as a regret. Regret to me, kind of says that you wished they hadn’t happened. But in my opinion, I needed them to happen in order that I could learn valuable lessons and readjust my life as a result. One doesn’t learn by coasting through life. One only learns when one stumbles, or rams facefirst into a wall, or falls flat on one’s bum. Hurts, but learning to get up again is also another one of those important life lessons.

Incidentally, the longest continuous gaming session I ever experienced was in my foolhardy youth, where winning was everything, and my team raced two other teams on a MUD quest marathon to kill 30 raid-like bosses. It took us 9 hours. We won. One other team called it after that, and the last team gamely plodded on and finished at the 11th hour.

After that, I said “My god. That was crazy. Never again. Worth the experience once. But never, never again.”

No regrets. But I definitely learned the boundaries of one of my priorities that day.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 21.