One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

I thought I was getting better.

Two days ago, I took this screenshot feeling relatively good about everything in general, wanting to share a burgeoning optimism that maybe quarterly class balance updates would be decent for overall game functioning.

newdervish

After all, I had around three months to giggle about getting into Viper’s gear before the crowd demand sent Black Diamond prices soaring sky-high, and then play a Burnzerker – a build that I would probably not have ever gotten around to on my own, but really tickled the pyromaniac-loving part of me that loves any class that throws around fire, fire and MORE FIRE.

The Burnzerker nerf was expected, and I was pleasantly mollified to see that it wasn’t knee-jerk cut down into absolute uselessness, but more or less on par with most other normal condition classes/builds. (Minus the present bug where two burnzerker fields are ineffective, thus don’t bring more than one, until it gets fixed, eventually.)

Of course, we still have two annoying player subsets to contend with – those who won’t accept anything but the current most OP builds – that crown has gone to a certain specific necromancer/reaper build using minions and epidemic apparently (not sure, I haven’t looked into it yet); and those who are blatantly ignorant and jump to conclusions based on hearsay without any actual attempts at measurement or objectivity.

The latter are a pet peeve, as arguing with an idiot tends to wind up with descending to their level and them beating you with experience at being a stubborn ignoramus.

So I usually don’t try, beyond a calm factual statement or two, and then let the facts speak for themselves. (Brought a burnzerker to VG, red either still died before blue and green, or exactly on time – so either blue/green group is incompetent and/or the condi output is acceptable. Not OP anymore, but acceptable.)

Another funny side story about those who think they know everything: I was on my way to my last Lunar New Year firecracker for the daily.

As my charr bullrushed past one or two people standing around, random bystander guy spoke up and said, “You have to glide to this firecracker. FYI.”

I have no idea if he was addressing me (since I did bump the pillar/pedestal on my way to said firecracker) or if he was talking to the other player standing nearby, but eh, what if that player didn’t own Heart of Thorns? Was he SOL?

Without missing a beat (since I was really truly on my usual route to the firecracker anyway), I ran right past, jumped up the side of the glass dome, ran along the roof and then promptly fell down through a gap in the roof onto the pedestal where the firecracker was.

Sans glider.

Random bystander quickly shut up and decided that now would be a good time to walk/run away.

I might be revealing my deeply flawed human nature here, but I couldn’t stop chortling to myself for some time after that.

But I digress.

The screenshot above is my new *cough*dervish*cough*

Okay, it’s really just the thief Elite spec Daredevil with a staff skin.

But it captures the scythe wielding part of the GW1 dervish decently well, even if the avatar changing utility skills have more or less wound up with the revenant.

Again, without the meta in dramatic upheaval every three months, I find that it would be quite unlikely that I would have gotten around to this build.

Mostly, I was looking for a secondary replacement class for the burnzerker, so that if a particular raid already had way too many might stacking PS warriors or revenants, I could at least offer a current ‘common knowledge’ ‘OP’ class/build. (When in Rome and all that, you know, why fight it?)

It also took out what was probably a month’s worth of materials hoarding and savings by the time I finished decking him out with the appropriate runes/sigils, Ascended weapons, trinkets, and about three pieces of Ascended armor.

As personally painful as it was to dip into the treasure hoard, I have to admit that a certain amount of forced spending and need for materials is good for stimulating the economy. Also, it acts like another kind of hardcore tax beyond expensive food/wrench consumables.

I was excited enough by the feel of playing and learning a new build/playstyle to go out and kill a bunch of core Tyria stuff, adding up toward core Tyria mastery, as well as start formulating specific HoT plans for improvement/progress.

One goal was the Ascended Bo, which I found cheapest to just go ahead with the collection. That made me partake in one round of Auric Basin and one round of Dragon Stand in order to get the last bits of stuff I needed.

I idly also laid in plans to score some HoT mastery points, since way too many repeated raid failures had already capped me in xp for the HoT mastery tracks. I just need about 12 more mastery points I haven’t gotten around to earning.

Unfortunately, the last two days have put me into a bit of a foul mood yet again.

I idly made a reply comment in a Reddit thread rant that described how many problems the player was facing while trying to enjoy/play through a HoT meta event.

At the time, it was just a bit of a speculative thought I had, an idle remark on the many levels of abstraction that the guy’s story had become about, that his narrative had become more “struggling with the game, as game” rather than an immersed narrative about the world as obstacle.

I was sort of thinking of the same issue that Warhammer had, with their all encompassing Tome of Knowledge, and PvE leveling that wound up staring at the quest UI going “OK, I need X more organs from Y mobs” and mostly out-of-world game-meta related thinking that made the obvious focus manipulating game mechanics and rules, rather than actually enjoying the world as presented.

It blew up on me rather surprisingly, garnering some 200+ upvotes.

It made me think about how many people are out there, feeling a bit like me, feeling a bit like some of the old guard like that_shaman and other familiar Reddit names expressing a certain malaise or discontent.

And then I read new guard comments in the GW2 reddit, who LOVE raids and think they’re awesome, except that they’re also constantly whining that dungeons have been gutted, fractals have devolved into Swamp of the Mists (apparently, I haven’t bothered to set foot in there for some time) and that they’ve already cleared the raid wing on reset day and have nothing else to do and are now bored and going off to play another game, while waiting for more stuff to do.

And here I am, -struggling- to find enough groups every goddamn week to even get a guaranteed vale guardian kill, having to push aside my dinner time so that I might even get into a raid group that might or might not kill VG…

… and I just get angry. And bitter.

(To add salt to the wound, apparently TTS training raids are now off the calendar, diminishing yet another avenue for raid groups, and it’s back to waiting for an invite into the next experiment, a specific TTS raid guild, to see if that works any better. Strung along, yet again.)

And then I read a post like Azuriel’s, wherein he Gets/Doesn’t Get GW2.

All I want to do is bang my forehead against a flat surface really really hard.

No offense taken from Azuriel’s honest reactions, by the way, I think he’s a great representative of the subset who give GW2 a shot, just can’t find any impetus to level up further and then start posting on Reddit asking, “is that all there is? how do I level fast? map completion is boring, how do I like this game? unosweiter.”

But I can’t help but scream, in a rather enraged fashion, that Heart of Thorns threw in all the fucking endgame for people like this – who need a reason to keep leveling (masteries), who want a PvE endgame to look forward to (raids / collection grind)…

… and apparently they’re not even making it to level 80!

They can’t get past the open exploration aspect of leveling, so they quit before hitting 80.

Meanwhile, those that liked the open exploration aspect, now face the bait-and-switch achievement endgame, just like -every other fucking MMO- out there.

WHO THE FUCK IS ANET CATERING TO ANY MORE?

They try to reach the hardcore raiders, and the hardcore raiders are throwing it back in their faces by locusting the content and diminishing it to triviality.

In the process, they’re infuriating the casuals and those in the middle.

The PvPers are twitching ever since the PvP league ended and they’re forced to mix with the hoi polloi in unranked.

Meanwhile, they’re scrambling to apply CPR to the most neglected portion, WvW, because that’s a post-expansion priority now.

Everyone else is just going to have to wait their turn.

#grumpy

Furthermore, I hear news from Trion’s end that they’re revamping payment models and my second-favorite “MMO-like” Trove is going to start charging real money for classes, no two ways around this.

This makes me grumpier.

Mind you, since I started early, I’ve already reaped most of the benefits and unlocked every class but the Gunslinger (which still reputedly needs help to be brought back up to par) so it’s not exactly going to impact me considerably except moving forward, if I ever desire a new class introduced.

But I just don’t know if I can bring myself to play games that don’t feel fair, payment model or level playing field-wise.

So Trove may be a write off too.

Maybe it’s time to relook at Path of Exile or Minecraft again…

Advertisements

GW2: Endgame is Everything

Finally got story mode done on the warrior, after an uncountable number of exploration mode runs...

Scree from the Cynic Dialogues has a post-mortem up on why he lost interest in Guild Wars 2 after six months and couldn’t get back into the game despite repeated tries.

His main issues appear to be a foundational disagreement on how traits were designed in the game, and unhappiness with the speed of developer fixes and response.

Which I happen to agree are very good reasons for why one shouldn’t play a game that one dislikes.

I personally have foundational disagreements on how World of Warcraft raids are the be-all and end-all of anyone wanting to play their game in a hardcore manner (with item level and ever-increasing stats being so emphasized), and would probably go berserk trying to deal with pithy Ghostcrawler posts in between the drastic game changes that seem to happen with every WoW patch.

Nor can I really deal with the fundamentally Eve Online concept of paying a good $15-30 a month for the privilege of getting beat up while learning valuable lessons “to get better, for the future” for at least 2-3 months while you skill up, plan, plot, join organizations and eventually get good enough at the game to do well, earn sufficient isk to possibly pay for your account(s) and then proceed to beat on each other and any newbies who stray into your path in an endless political war of power and greed-mongering.

(Though from afar, I do like the episodic pace of change the Eve devs put out with every update.)

So I don’t play World of Warcraft.

Or Eve Online.

And Scree doesn’t play Guild Wars 2.

But I find his outlook on endgame most interesting. He’s not happy with games that don’t have a stated, defined plan for “the end game,” especially if the speed of tweaks to it are glacial to boot.

To him, GW2’s endgame is possibly WvW – which tends to spawn a myriad of similar complaints from primarily WvW players about the game type being ignored or new fixes that make things even worse.

Or it is dungeons and possibly the fractal dungeon which ramps all the way up to fractal level 50 with increasing stat difficulty and the need to grind for a particular Agony stat in order to qualify for higher leveled fractals. Except the rewards are mostly all cosmetic, which makes them optional, and this somehow grates on him.

To him, the endgame is everything.

If it’s not clearly stated and defined, and given substantially tempting rewards and focused developer attention, he loses interest. Fast.

On the other hand, here’s me, five level 80s and 408 days in (2,561 hours – the average is really kinda scary, all those weekends and waiting for Tequatl must have skewed it…) and still not bored.

I haven’t seriously played WvW in easily three months, nor have I visited a fractal dungeon for a long long time.

So what in the world have I been doing?

This week, I’ve been evolving a comfortable routine of trying to catch at least one Tequatl kill a day via the TTS guild, maybe two or three with other characters if I have the time.

Then I work on finishing up the daily with some easy extras for ~7-9AP, the daily reward laurel and that nice sense of checklist done easy satisfaction.

If there’s more time to spare after that, I pull up the LFG tool and see if I can get in on a few easy CoF p1 or P2 runs, or a definitely less easy TA new Aetherpath attempt (two more dungeon-related achievements to go).

scarletisastalker

Or if I’m feeling brave, some of the dungeons I’m less familiar with to become more habituated to them, and maybe even get one of my last few completely unfamiliar and undone paths finished on the way to the Dungeon Master achievement.

1-3 dungeons later, I am decidedly dungeoned out for the day.

(But several gold richer.)

I may pop into Southsun for twenty minutes peaceful farming with a magic find cupcake for incredibly incremental progress on T6 mats for a Legendary.

I definitely visit the Under New Management puzzle for empyreal fragments, and one weekend I visited Skipping Stones on a whim to discover that the Super Adventure Box had decidedly improved my jumping ability yet again.

Or I jump over to one of the Orr zones to run around in the most haphazard manner gathering resources and maybe stumbling across an orichalcum ore or ancient sapling as a bonus – it’s really just peaceful solo time.

Depending on my mood, over the last few weeks, I have also:

  • used a GW2 node website for more focused and targeted node gathering
  • gone to farm Champions in the Frostgorge loop
  • stopped by a world boss or two
  • visited and revisited some jumping puzzles new and old
  • made an attempt at map exploration on alts
  • tried to level up my mesmer further via lowbie zones and personal story
  • bought a new character slot
  • made a temporary necro to regain the skull mask I must have accidentally salvaged off my level 80 necro
  • experimented with various races of warriors while working towards accumulating Black Lion Keys

(By level 7, you can generally get the level 10 Personal Story done, then clean up character, getting a few lucks via salvaging along the way and delete.)

Plus, you get to see all the branching level 10 stories. Hot golemic love action!
Plus, you get to see all the branching level 10 stories. Hot golemic love action!

I also recently discovered that the Daily Activity Participation is rather fun and easy to do. Just talk to the NPC in Lion’s Arch, putz around for one game (and maybe even win it) and then exit one reward chest richer.

I’ve been deriving a certain satisfaction in accumulating and salvaging a ton of blues and greens from my Teq and dungeoneering and oh, Scarlet invasion efforts. Each day, my magic find slowly increments by 1-2% back towards the 180% I was used to previously, except now it’ll apply for the entire account.

I have yet to properly inventory and tidy up my bank and guild banks once more or figure out what kinds of stats I want on each character for Ascended armor and weapons and work towards those. My Artificer is only 465 on crafting, and nothing else has been incremented past 400.

In the past update before Tequatl Rising, my daily routine involved at least one visit of the Super Adventure Box for a round of bauble farming or an achievement or Tribulation Mode attempt.

And so on, following whatever was new per Living Story update.

In a way, this very comfortably harkens back to Guild Wars 1 for me.

There was so much lateral progression you pretty much had to pick and choose what you wanted to get done for the day, according to your own personal goals.

You could PvP with various formats. You could work on your story missions across four chapters till you were done. You could do it all over again in hard mode. Or do it yet again with books to keep track of your repeat progress and reward you. You could vanquish every zone. Or work on map exploring and scraping every last corner of the world. You could run the harder ‘dungeon’-like zones Fissure of Woe, the Underworld, Domain of Anguish with a group or solo with your own heroes. Or follow the Zaishen ‘daily’ and do the highlighted goals. And lots more besides.

The Hall of Monuments worked as a sort of focused vertical progression ‘endgame’ where you could do a whole bunch of lateral activities but gradually increment that final number.

In GW2, ArenaNet points and achievements appear to be a method of coming close to that idea.

I’m a dabbler. I putz around casually a lot, hoard a ton of stuff that may never ever get used, pick a goal at random from a big list and work towards that for a while, then find something else to do.

The cool thing is that everything I choose to do, benefits me and my account in the end, somehow, someway.

Other players, I am sure, do this very differently.

Some spend all their days in WvW, zerging or roaming as their interest takes them. Some fixate on a Legendary they want and single-mindedly work towards that. Some chase dragons, or world bosses, or champions all day long. Some are happy just perfecting the cosmetic look they desire for their characters. Or creating the world’s largest collection of alts, or miniatures, or what-have-you.

For instance, one of my guild leaders seems to be quite a PvP fan, and half the time, I see him on one sPvP map or another. The other half he seems to spend running guild events (which include WvW) and missions and maybe taking some time out to PvE and follow the Living Story.

Another of my guild leaders has 15k ArenaNet Points and still counting. so guess where his focus must be.

The leader of the TTS guild I joined appears to be enjoying himself spending nearly all his time online in Sparkfly Fen organizing one kill after another, and wrangling six (yes, it’s now six) guilds with all the attendant leadership and administration challenges that must follow.

And of course, some content themselves hanging out in Lion’s Arch, or just finishing their dailies, or wandering the open world or roleplaying with a guild.

In Guild Wars 1 -and- 2, the endgame is literally -everything-.

GW2: Snapshots From A New Front

I blame culling. Or lag. Or guesting. Or improved loot in dragon chests and WvW. Or no-skill zerging.

Whatever the new excuse is for why THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE around the place until we trip and fall over them.

Snarkiness aside, I honestly think it’s a great problem to have – because the alternative, having done leveling around more deserted areas like Metrica Province and Fields of Ruin in dead timezone hours, gets boring pretty quickly.

However, it means that I’m also low on good quality screenshots because a) I’m running around on lowest graphic settings so as not to stutter and crash too many times

and b) there’s just a screen full of invisible people

Player versus foot. Just me and my lonesome. Oh, and that one other guy I can see. (And 500 more that I can't.)
Player versus foot. Just me and my lonesome. Oh, and that one other guy I can see. (And 500 more that I can’t.)

or c) a mess of particle effects.

It's abstract art. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
It’s abstract art. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Seriously though, I am loving my new guild and my new server. I guess birds of a feather end up flocking together in the end. That mix of maturity, patience, full-on English sentence construction and non-super-serious willingness to turn into a yak and laugh at oneself is absolutely right for me.

If only I wasn’t on the other side of the frickin’ world.

It gets distinctly quieter in my weekday evenings and nights, but I’ve been working around it by dedicating that time to solo PvE in peace (which all introverts need from time to time) or running easy fractals using GW2LFG.

I’m still stuck at level 18 fractals since forever, but what I hear on the rumor mill is that folks want at least 10-15 Agony Resistance at level 20 and up. Since I’m still sitting on a measly 5 AR on a dps-barely tanky build, I’ve decided to recognize my limits and patiently grind for now.

One happy milestone, I finally stockpiled enough fractal relics to afford the first incarnation of the fractal capacitor.
One happy milestone, I finally stockpiled enough fractal relics to afford the first incarnation of the fractal capacitor. Another 500 more to go…

Ironically, now that I’ve got it, I’m just staring at it in the safe box of my inventory, unwilling to put it on. It’s unique and currently account-bound, but it’ll soul bind the moment I wear it.

For one thing, it’s ridiculously fugly on the Charr in the preview (floats above his back) and doesn’t match his armor. For another, he’s got a perfectly presentable rare back item with an upgrade component slotted in, and it feels illogical to make it obsolete for a measly +2 in three stats (and it doesn’t have room for an upgrade component either in its first incarnation.)

Lastly, I keep thinking about my new Asura Guardian that’s on the way up to level 80, my plans to experiment with more group-focused builds with him, and end up waffling on which character I want to be buffing up with Ascended gear first.

And that’s why 61 laurels are still sitting in the currency bank too.

I pity those with multiple level 80 alts of other professions. I haven’t gotten to that dilemma yet, thank goodness, this is already enough of a headache for me.

Now and then, I poke my head into WvW, but truth to tell, I don’t really have the mentality for roaming gank squad / dolyak disruption – even though that’s one of the more fruitful things to do when outmanned in a bad time period and my thief is but 8 levels away from being dressed properly.

Just don’t feel like I gel with thiefy movement and stealth as yet and that I’ll end up as a piss-poor wannabe and smeared on the floor instead. Maybe a mesmer or an engineer, but there’s that grass greener on the other side talking. Who knows, maybe in time I’ll get bored and try it, preferably with some guildies.

Which segues me right into how fucking fantastic a WvW time I’ve been having during NA time periods when I can make them. Two big differences from my admittedly limited experience with only one server before this?

Tarnished Coast rezzes people. They rez people like mad. Which can sometimes lead to a wipe, but also a resounding reputation for tenacity and a nickname as the Zombie Coast.

Tarnished Coast defends shit. They really do. (At least when folks are online.) Siege out the wazoo and upgrades like there’s no tomorrow. And it’s not just, oh, we’re doing it for the lolz and the loot bag farming and endless slaughter (though that can be a perk.)

It kind of reminds me of Team Fortress (the old classic version anyway) where just one or two or three defensively-minded people working in unison to sentry gun and bomb up a flag room can make life hell (or at least distinctly more challenging) for the forces on offense, while your own attackers are wreaking havoc in the other team’s base because practically all of them (except for those respawning) have run out to go cap your flag because it’s more exciting to be on the attack.

Some very good commanding and strategic play going on in this server too. I’ve learnt quite a bit about the more finely naunced aspects of positioning in zerg vs zerg battles (or rather, two coordinated groups going against each other, rather than how two leaderless zergs fragment up into a pitched battle where neither side gains ground.)

Amusingly, sometimes I think the whole point of moving groups around, getting them to stack up and ram into each other is to force a wipe. On either side. The losers get to pick themselves back up at spawn and move off together somewhere else. Otherwise, a commander just ends up losing control of all their PUGs as they wind up dead and trickling in piecemeal and/or back-and-forth duking it out with the other team on individual mode.

Oh, and loot bag change? Awesome. Feels more encouraging to go WvWing now.

A lowbie guardian, not using staff, and FIVE loot bags. Unthinkable. I can only imagine what the loot manna must be like for classes with big AoE fields.
A lowbie guardian, not using staff, and FIVE loot bags. Previously unthinkable. I can only imagine what the loot manna must be like for classes with big AoE fields. (*twitches toward the necro or elementalist or engineer alt*)

We had a dev visit too. Guess we're OP cheaters. Later spotted running yaks.

We had an ArenaNet dev visit too. Guess we’re OP cheaters. Later spotted running yaks.
Some lucky bastard had an exotic coat drop for him in WvW. Wasn't me. I knew there was a reason my Asura doesn't wear medium armor...
Some lucky bastard had an exotic coat drop for him in WvW. Wasn’t me. Does a good job of showing off my underwear though.

Now -this- is a freakin' yak escort. First class dolyak travel, hoohaa!

Now -this- is a freakin’ yak escort. First class dolyak travel, hoohaa!

(Of course, it was the last yak to make an upgrade, and our previous two had been hit by a 20-strong zerg, hence the show of overwhelming names. But still entertaining.)

Makes me look forward to seeing whatever new WvW changes are due to come in end March. Though progression is going to be a pain since it’s on a per-character basis. I’m never going to have any non-Guardian level 80 alts at this rate.