GW2: The Nerfs Will Continue Until Morale Improves

The watchword of the day is annoyance.

I suppose this is a change from the past month, where the operating phrase was “cruise control.”

However, I am not sure this is a terribly positive change.

The silver lining, of course, is that I finally got frustrated enough to break through into coherence on this blog again.

Most of last month was me questioning myself, “What are you feeling when you play the games you’re playing? Do you have anything to write or blog about?”

And the reply, as always, was “ehh… nothing very much. I’m not sure I’m feeling anything. Kinda numb. Empty. Just cruising. Kinda contented, I guess. Not happy happy. But not depressed or sad either. I’m just doing what needs to be done.

“A chore is a chore is a chore. It’s not super-tedious, but it’s nothing to get excited over either. You do it, mark it off the to-do list for the day or week, and proceed not to think about it any longer. You certainly don’t find a dire need to wax eloquently on a blog about brushing your teeth, bathing, cleaning the house, picking up groceries, paying the bills, doing GW2 dailies, doing PoE dailies, -every- day and -every- post.

“You know what? This is too much thinking about trying to write about nothing. Let’s go play Path of Exile. Your next build is waiting to be leveled or improved incrementally.”

The result: zero blog posts.

Until now. Where ArenaNet’s somewhat overzealous nerf of the standard chronomancer and necromancer raid meta builds promises ripple effects that will shake up the meta, in as yet unknown ways.

Doom and gloom has a way of spreading across Reddit and the forums though, and the knee-jerk reactions of others are not doing wonders for -my- mood either.

The reason why I’m blogging about it though is mostly a need to work out a bunch of conflicting emotions, and having no other outlet but to lay it all out here.

I have an underlying foundation of stability throughout whatever the hell excuse for “balance” occurs in GW2. The fact is that it is possible to own one of every class, if not more. I am also quite confident in being able to equip each class with whatever the hell is defined as “good” in the next meta, even if it will cost time and money to do so.

So even as one class gets hit with the nerf bat, another class will naturally be in ascendance, and if I have to equip and change to that class, SO BE IT. It is doable.

I know that I can -eventually- adapt to whatever’s needed. My raid group is full of people who can multiclass, so chances are fairly good that eventually the team will sort itself out into a new configuration that can cope – even if we might have to wait for the new strategies to be developed and then faithfully ape in cookie-cutter fashion.

Of course, doable does not mean easy, cheap or enjoyable.

Some classes aesthetically appeal to different personalities more. Some classes are easier to play without having to manage a concerto on the keyboard. Some classes have cheaper builds or less specific role responsibility to tax one’s concentration and reflexes.

I’d previously found a very happy place in raids as a condi PS berzerker-warrior.

I fulfill a support role by buffing might and providing banners. It even gives fury and added condition damage. Adding on burns on a boss ups the dps of the necromancer-reapers, who get a serious amount of burns to epidemic bounce.

I enjoy condition damage, it’s strategically different from straight up direct damage, there’s having to pay attention to layering on stacks and yet being able to pause and dodge and deal with other mechanics for a breath while still pulsing damage.

Also it is FIRE. My readers should know my pyromaniac obsession by now. I have the most luck sticking to classes and builds that let me play with fire, be it City of Heroes, Path of Exile or GW2. Fire particle effects just make me happy.

dropbearonfire

morefire

Not terribly original, perhaps, being a darkity dark lord with shoulder spikes and on fire, but who freaking cares when you can watch the world burn?

coh_worldburn

Warriors are straightforward. They hit things with their head. A perfect match personality-wise. They’re fairly survivable and sturdy – which is good because I tend to be clumsy and insta-die on squishier classes.

They contribute a decent amount of control. Condi PS especially excels with immobilizes, and I have felt successful in my niche but not terribly demanding role holding Gorseval spirits and escort wargs.

And I am now sulking and in a spot of mourning because it looks like the ripple effect is going to catch condi PS warriors in its wake.

The “common knowledge” being bandied about is that condi PS can no longer keep up 25 might stacks without a mesmer’s signet of inspiration to help it along.

This is true. If you’re in the standard condi PS build.

I spent a fairly fruitful if moderately frustrated night of testing with the dps golem ways and means to keep up 25 might stacks on a condi PS.

After a bunch of experiments, I determined that it was possible to stretch boon duration in various ways (with the understandable tradeoff of a slight drop in personal dps.)

Instead of rare veggie pizza, for example, one could eat dumplings and gain 20% boon duration at the cost of 20% condition duration. This, of course, is not terribly desirable.

So I invested a bunch of gold, leveled a scribe to 225 (hoorah for hoarding materials), and made a superior sigil of concentration. Dump that on the bow, dump a sigil of battle (cheap option, I was ready to go two sigil of concentrations if needed) on the torch, and voila, extended boon duration and a few more might stacks at the cost of some bleed dps from two sigils of earth.

Actual raid testing proved it was possible to maintain 25 might stacks with blasting might on the bow, For Great Justice and a bunch of extended might duration from sigil of strength crits.

Unfortunately, even as that bit of personal testing proved a success, our raid group was discovering the other ramifications of the nerf.

No one brought a rev, so our break bars – which were previously heavily dependent on rev breaking – ended up getting broken more slowly.

No one brought a necro, except in a few odd tests after repeated failures with a new comp, so the group struggled with mechanics that previously the necros with their many minions were taking care of. So… cage on trio caught a bunch of damage from adds that were previously tied up with minions and downed by epidemic. Conditions were flying left, right and center on Matthias and to a lesser extent, on sloth, without plague signet. Unmanaged adds on Xera were lethal distractions.

Without minions to heal, the druids had less astral force to go into celestial avatar and less healing ability, which was not really able to keep up with a spoiled bunch of clumsy souls used to getting topped off despite mistakes. Said clumsy souls were also mostly adapting to new builds or rotations and distracted, hence the mistakes.

It’s unknown what strategy our raid group is going to settle on. We were previously very necro heavy and banking heavily on conditions and epidemic bounce. I don’t know if the viper horror minion nerf means they are now off the table for good – the only hope for them is if their epidemic bounces are still strong enough to deal sufficient dps – but it’s not looking terribly promising.

This puts my condi PS warrior in a really bad spot as well, despite managing 25 might stacks, because to me, I exist to help boost necromancer epidemics with plenty of burns. The fact that a ranged build is easier to play in a number of these raid encounters was a bonus.

If there are no more necromancers, there is much less reason for me to be playing condi PS in a raid.

I am better off going normal power PS, in melee, where I can pretty much close my eyes and shit out 25 might stacks without working as hard for it.

Bonus, a power PS has more break bar management than condi PS, which would compensate for the loss of a revenant. They support direct power based builds better, because they never have to decide whether to trade off burning arrows for empower allies, and it looks like the new golden children are going to be elementalists (what’s new?), guardians and thieves, all of whom are direct damage builds.

*sigh*

redvsblue

Again, there’s an odd sense of conflict. I -shouldn’t- feel too terribly upset.

I already have a staff elementalist decked out in ascended (which I still barely know how to play, but have managed successful kills in some off-class runs.)

I have a decked out thief, which I’ve taken to Gorseval before, and can play (but somehow don’t terribly enjoy. Either I don’t have a thief mindset, or I can’t gel with how that particular thief character looks.)

I have lived and breathed guardian life for four years. I can play a guardian in my sleep. My main is a guardian, albeit I was waiting for legendary armor before upgrading his still exotic armor. I also have a second guardian alt that I can easily resurrect – especially since I decked out a revenant which never saw much play (thank goodness, I wasn’t terribly comfy with it) – so I can easily just transfer a whole bunch of ascended heavy armor weight stuff over, if need be.

I have an 80 ranger-druid (that I was going to practice on via world completion, eventually) and a boosted 80 mesmer and engineer (that I was eventually going to take beginner steps to learn, so that I can at least appreciate what the other classes bring to the table), and enough leather and magnetite shards and random ascended drops hoarded that it’s not going to be impossible to equip whatever is needful.

A change in the meta is theoretically a good excuse to learn how to play a new build, and be exposed to more variety in gameplay.

So why is it that I just generally feel annoyed? Like something that was tolerable just got even more tedious?

Well, for one thing, changing over builds means I have to look at my completely unmanaged inventories and try to get them in some semblance of order once again. I have to think and make uncomfortable decisions over which currency to use to buy X ascended item, or grapple with crafting and the mystic forge to make said item or switch stats.

For another, the change in meta means that raid team roles are now in flux once more, and my particular raid group hasn’t even settled on a workable raid composition, let alone who will be in which role most of the time. This leads to discomfort, rather than the numbing comfortable familiarity of knowing that such-and-such player will be here and doing this, and that player will be there doing that.

And while discomfort is all very well when you want to incite players to step up to the challenge and adapt, every time I hit a frustration or discomfort or pain point these days, I start asking myself, “it’s been four years, maybe it’s enough, maybe I’m done with discomfort?”

At the level that I’m playing Path of Exile, there is no discomfort whatsoever –

plagueoffrogs
– only a plague of frogs.

(No doubt at the higher levels, there is great unhappiness every time a patch comes and throws something out of whack. But I have to point out that in PoE, there’s usually something else that can be the new OP thing that patch.)

This leads to a path of least resistance where I find myself double-clicking the PoE icon on the desktop a lot more often than the GW2 icon.

I’m not quitting GW2, of course. I think I’m still too attached to it for now, even if the -developers- seem to be checking out more than moi. (Hi, Amazon Game Studios!)

Both me and my raid group are likely to settle for the path of least resistance too, which is to just wait until the theorycrafters with the interest and too much time on their hands publish their “findings” (regardless of how true the facts are objectively, what is copied and repeated becomes history.)

Or it’ll hit a drama patch and break up. (Always have to prep for that possibility as well. Human nature is human nature.)

Whatever.

Even Legendary Armor can’t get me excited these days.

(I will leave it to a new generation to bitch about exclusivity and lack of alternatives. Bitching implies caring or giving a fuck, something I no longer have the energy for.)

Yeah, it looks pretty acceptably great. The heavy version, anyway, which is all I care about. I can only hope that it doesn’t look fugly as sin on a charr or asura, which are the two main body types on my character stable.

The new raid will probably arrive some time in November, after Halloween. Perhaps there will be more collection steps to work on then. With enough patience, I presume my raid group will eventually get there. Or it will be sad pug life like many others already suffering now to steadily unlock the collection. Or if it proves too painful, then the other alternative is giving up. Then I’ll move on, to some other game.

I can neither get excited or feel stressed about it either way. What happens, happens.

All I am, is a little bit sad about my condi PS, and a little bit annoyed that I have to suffer through more ‘work’ and unenjoyable bits, in order to arrive at a self-chosen goal.

(Not complaining, it’s self-inflicted, delayed gratification is a thing… but just…annoyed.)

In the meantime, in order to get over my annoyance and forget everything but the cheerful meditative smoothness of things falling over and dying without a struggle, I’ll be over in Wraecrast, procrastinating on GW2 stuff I probably oughta do but can’t be arsed to yet.

uniquestrongbox
Likely more exciting loot than I’ll ever see in GW2.
Advertisements

Oversaturation Leads to Not Caring

Today’s mood: Nonchalant

A lot of blogs (too many to link, alas) are buzzing like a poked hive with the big news that Everquest Next will be no more.

Wildstar’s prospects don’t seem to be in ascendance either, with the news of a sizeable reduction in force.

What hit closer to home for me was news that Colin Johanson was leaving ArenaNet and GW2.

There’s been a very positive spin over the whole affair, but for the more jaded of us, there’s always a glass half-empty side as well.

Let’s face it, people don’t decide to leave a company if growth is in sight and things are going well. There are always niggling bits that push people out the door too. Maybe it’s not-so-great relationships with bosses or colleagues, work environment, family pressure, a pet project that got canceled, responsibilities that got taken away, new responsibilities being less easy to cope with than the old, no forseeable growth opportunities or openings to climb the career ladder, whatever. Not saying that any or all of the above might necessarily apply in Colin’s case, but who knows, right?

I do think HoT was a gamble that seems to be backfiring on Anet quite rapidly. (Launched last August; discontented rumblings throughout Jan-Mar.)

Reading between the lines, we see a bit of a scramble for extra revenue this quarter. Shared inventory slot bundle for $35? Glider wings of different color variations, $10 each? “Hey, guys, we’ve decided that March is going to be a whole month of discounted gem store sales daily! Keep logging in daily! Maybe you’ll see something you like!”

Translation: Daily-log in metric is falling.  Revenue is falling. We have a first quarter report to give to NCsoft soon.

Anecdotes suggest many casual players across various guilds have ceased logging-in over the past weeks and months.

Personally I’ve been seeing attendance at Oceanic TTS Teq and Triple Wurm shrinking. The Oceanic leaders called some kind of important community meeting yesterday. I’m kinda waiting to see the minutes to see what was decided.

Why couldn’t I attend and hear the discussion firsthand?

Ha. The exact same reason world boss raid attendance is shrinking, of course. I was doing the new content – Salvation Pass raids – and locked into my closed group of ten peoples (give or take 3-7 fillers.)

Presumably at least 50% of the people who would otherwise be filling up a TTS instance have been drawn away by  ten-man instanced raids, leaving the rest struggling to keep taxing in PUG fillers for world bosses or HoT zone events.

The inevitable divisiveness is upon us. The community has been fracturing into smaller and smaller bits, and I heartily doubt it’s ever going to recover.

We’ve been moving away from things that draw a server community together – megaservers, guild missions in the open world that can pull others in and let people meet, WvW server loyalty crumbles as the game mode diminishes, no large Living Story zone events like the Marionette or Lion’s Arch rescue, towards things that lock smaller and smaller groups of presumably likeminded people into instances. Players would now rather not play with others who don’t think like them. They would rather not waste time teaching new people stuff. Strangers are useless noobs who would drag the group down.

It’s been an interesting progression of emotions for me this past week anyway.

I’ve realized I can’t muster the energy to fight or complain anymore. I sounded the warning trumpets early on, and they were ignored and/or it was already too late to steer the oil tanker in another direction.

Certain Reddit veterans have taken up the grumbling about story being locked away in raids, while others are happily disagreeing with them. There’s rants about raid challenge – too much, too little, whatever. There’s people hating on raids, there’s people loving raids. Unsoweiter.

I have decided to resolve my dilemma very simply. Wallet vote. While the state of affairs that I personally disagree with continues, I’m not paying a dime for anything.

I like seeing new content. So as long as my current raid group holds up, I am also content to trundle along and see if there’s any chance of progressing further or no. Success or failure is up to the group as a whole. Patient play and practice will see the group through, assuming no critical fractures or drama – which would be also out of my hands and beyond my control.

The really interesting question I asked myself this morning, while I had breakfast: “If my current raid group falls apart, would I be willing to make the effort to find yet another raid group?”

At the moment, all signs point to no.

I have tried quite a few raid groups and most of them are incapable of rising to the challenge.

Nor can I seek out any more hardcore raid groups because those would be way too much stress (not to mention, they wouldn’t take a mic-less player anyhow.)

Most importantly, now that one has, more or less, gelled together into one static raid group, it has now become an in-group, out-group thing. Presently, I no longer care about the fates of anyone or anything outside of the nine other people, so to speak.

My time has been locked up /here/ and I can’t be /there/ or anywhere else. TTS world boss raids lack attendance? WvW needs people? Sorry, I’m raiding and it’s going to take up the evening. So… guess you’re outta luck.

If the raid group dies, I become yet another rudderless ronin once more.

It is -conceivably- possible that I could apply to join yet another group, undergo the gelling process once more and reattach to yet another nine people.

Or most probably, I would ask myself what would be the point of attaching to a game whose direction is drifting off god-knows-where or is pointed towards a destination I’m not interested in going anyway?

And then de-attach completely.

I mean, the process is almost complete anyway. I’ve stopped caring about the game as a whole. I’ve stopped caring about my server. I’ve stopped caring about the general game population. I’ve a teeny bit of care left about my mega-community and my personal guilds that is steadily crumbling as I stop attending the events held by them in order to run raids.

I definitely shouldn’t give a damn about any semblance of lore or story because it’s going to take a good half a year to get revealed every so slowly, and blocked by massive obstacles called raid bosses. If I see it, I see it. If I don’t, I don’t. Whatever.

Really interestingly, I’ve stopped worrying about the whole “competence” angle ever since Vale Guardian died.

Remember I had/have this little personal hangup and insecurity over whether I’m seen as competent in the eyes of others? Seems to be a number of reasons why this has become less critical, all of a sudden.

One, I managed to kill VG in different groups. So I’m evidently playing at a sufficient level that won’t automatically cause team wipes. This satisfies the baseline level of my insecurity.

Two, even if you’re competent, if too many of the group isn’t competent (yet), you aren’t killing VG or any other raid boss anyway. So personal competence does not correlate to raid boss kill success. The solution is merely plenty of group practice and/or teaching/coaching and addressing specific mistakes/issues (assuming the people in question are open to improving and won’t go defensively apeshit on you, which… can be a bit of an ideal dream.)

Three, apparently as I de-attach from caring or being passionately invested in a game, I also no longer care about whether I’m seen as an expert player or not. I mean, who do I have to impress? Nobody whose opinion I care about.

(My personal standards seem to be set much higher than the average anyway, so I may as well just listen to my own internal compass.)

I have “The Eternal” title now. Honestly, I’m not actually going to ever set foot into any PUGs that would ask for it to be displayed. Fear of strangers and toxicity is way too high now.

The only real meaning the title has for me is the memory of the nine people who came together to specifically help get me the title even after they already had theirs (and managed to not die, one by a thread, literally, he was downed as Sabetha died. Possibly another hero teammate managed to keep rezzing too.)

So I guess, six months later, I now have the answer to the question “What’s going to come out of the other end, once I fall down the raiding hole?”

A sort of separation aloofness, that can be perceived as a mild case of “elitism” by some.

A load of not-quite-burnout, but definitely detachment from the game.

P.S. I think it’s important to clarify what “not caring” means for me in this context, because the phrase often conjures up the image of a petulant individual throwing a tantrum and ragequitting, or someone with a trembling lip mumbling “I don’t care” while signaling with all their body language he or she patently does.

At the moment, it is very much an insouciant nonchalance, with a side sprinkling of resigned indifference.

In my mind, GW2 has taken a sudden drop in status to secondary game, and it seems the amount of importance I invested into it has also dipped as a result.

I still show up for raids, I still try my hardest because that’s the right thing to do when you’re participating in organized group content. If a kill happens, hooray. If a kill doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. It just means more waiting until the next time.

In between the actual mob fighting, during all the waiting and organizing and scheduling that would drive the sane mad, I just stand around AFK, swap screens and try to squeeze in as much alternate game playing as I can (Path of Exile is much better for this than Stardew Valley, since I can instantly drop from the former, while the latter only saves game progress per day.)

It’s better than taking delays like a personal affront, I should think. This maintains my mood to pretty cheerful levels all around and I end up looking at most things with equanimity. I like being mellow better than my youthful days of super-serious intensity.

In other news, my Path of Exile Perandus League character has just hit level 63. (Yes, I’m a noob. Yes, I take my time.)

He’s been doing pretty well with a dual Righteous Fire totems + Searing Bond build. It’s very gear-independent, I’m still sitting on highly backdated level 40 something gear with the barest minimum of slotting (Increased Burning Damage on the totems, is about it).

The Blasphemy gem is my new favorite thing (for some definitions of new, I think it was introduced quite some time back.) It can automatically apply curses slotted to it, as an aura, at the cost of some mana reserved.

Since Righteous Fire totems use no mana whatsoever, I’m running Flammability as an aura, that doubles as a very handy mob radar/spotter for shadowy areas as nearby mobs instantly light up with a glowy orange-red symbol on their heads.

I’m juust starting to feel the pressure in the Merciless areas, from insufficient resistances, armor and %life increases. So that’s my current focus, run around the lvl 60+ areas, kill stuff, hope some nice-linked on-level gear drops that I can upgrade for better resist and +life and hit the %life nodes on the skill tree each level from here till maps.

GW2: What Would You Do, Before the Last Day?

“The last day dawns on the Kingdom of Ascalon. It arrives with no fanfare, no tolling of alarms. Those who will remember, will speak fondly of the warm morning breeze. People carry on with their daily lives, unaware that in a short while… everything they have ever known will come to an end.”

All of Tyria is threatened.

There is no turning back.

You will face a decisive moment.

The point of no return.

gw2-noturningback

All this messaging has set off an interesting Reddit speculation thread, choice snippets of which I include below:

reddit1reddit2reddit3

Nah… there’s no way… they couldn’t…. could they?

Our desire for static unchanging persistence, for “permanent” content, for lack of change, screams “NO.”

Apparently, the promise of an MMO for the bulk of its players is not that it is “living” or simulates the real world with changes that ensure you can never step in the same river twice, the attraction is more the promise of permanent persistence, that it is always there and constant and piling on more and more stuff, a hefty elephant getting bigger and bigger and clunkier as it gets older.

But this is a company though that has proven willing to kill its babies, its already-built content. Stuff gets removed, replaced, new art assets come in to take the place of the old. Changes and iterations, in search of the next optimal or best.

The sylvari didn’t start out looking like how they do now.

Kessex Hills and Lion’s Arch are forever changed.

And you know what, as much as we might hope for rebuilding to occur, for some of that old beauty to return, truth is, we really can’t step in the same river twice.

I don’t think Anet will ever be so lazy as to just patch back in the original art assets and go, hooray, rebuilt!

If Lion’s Arch does get rebuilt again, one day… it might harken back to the old, but I bet it’s going to look different… hopefully better.

But you know, just like that Reddit user said, “I still have this pre-searing feeling…”

Let’s think about it.

Anet wouldn’t want to split the playerbase. Chucking in an expansion’s worth of zone content into a normal expansion box pretty much means that everyone who wants the new stuff will have bought a box and gallivanted off to the new lands. What about the slower players who haven’t played through Tyria, do we make them go through it before they join us in… say, Elona or Cantha?

Well, if open world Tyria isn’t habitable anymore, that kinda solves that problem, doesn’t it?

New players might just start as new Canthans, or new Elonans, or new visitors to the new land. If the content is still spread out on a 1-80 scale, they can pretty much level up in Elona or Cantha without ever knowing Tyria, with completely new personal stories that our Tyrian-origin characters won’t have.

Lore-wise, the waking up and movement of an Elder Dragon means a swathe of destruction on a scale that we as players have never witnessed in person before.

It may not happen abruptly in real time. Anet appears to have learned that a two week/four week pacing seems to keep most players on track as far as story beats are concerned. For something of this scale, they may let it stretch out to months (which also gives them time to polish up the next dribble of content.)

How better to create demand than to also artificially create scarcity?

What if we knew that Tyria as we knew it was going to be no more… come… oh, I don’t know, Q3 2015 or something.

Six more months to do whatever you want to do in Tyria, before we say goodbye.

Wouldn’t it be enough time? A new player could buy GW2 and pretty much play up all the Tyrian content in that time, if they wanted.

If they wanted to come in, like, one month to world’s end, there is also always the possibility of saying, “hang on, wait a month and then you can buy GW2: the Elonian edition, the standalone expansion and come play with the rest of us in the Crystal Desert” or something along those lines.

Well, all this is still hypothetical, until we hear what news they choose to share with us at PAX.

But even if it never happens and they’ve got some completely different ideas on the table, perhaps, just perhaps, it wouldn’t hurt to play the game as if we were never going to see Tyria again.

If each zone as you knew it was going to blow up the next day and be wrecked, or even just change and be lost in some other way, what would you have wanted to see or save or preserve in your memories?

gw2-spiral

This weekend, I’m entertaining thoughts of and trying to formulate a plan to carry out The Great Screenshot Pilgrimage.

The scope of it, I’m still trying to nail down, given the supremely limited time I have available and all the other more achiever-oriented things I also want to do.

Ideally, I would want to preserve each zone in my memories doing a walking tour like what I did for Orr, just ambling around and taking screenshot photos of pretty much anything that catches my eye. There’s a lot of unpredictable beauty in GW2’s zones and it’s simply the best way I know to stumble across a scene composition that just sends chills of awe down your spine. But jeez, it takes time and can use up 2-3 hours in one zone. There’s like 28 zones in Tyria. I can do that over a period of months, not this weekend before next Tuesday’s update.

So I started brainstorming a whole list of options for a screenshot project, that might be completed in differing spans of time:

gw2-thaumanova

  • Take the -one- defining picture of the area or zone. Or take a picture of the first thing you think of when you hear the zone’s name. (Those may not be the same thing.)
  • Take 3-5 representative pictures of the zone, covering the major landmarks and scenery.
  • Do it encyclopedia or wiki-style, a picture for each point of interest or vista or named landmark.
  • Do a walking tour of the zone to capture pretty much whatever catches your eye.

gw2-oakheart

Basically, I think my primary desire is to take sufficient “photographs” to recreate my memory of the place, with the secondary desire of wanting to capture unexpected moments of perfect beauty to share with others.

I -was- hoping to kill a few birds with one stone and use a character that needed to a) map explore and b) travel to all the dungeons, but I found out to my dismay that the camera height for an asura is set so low to the point that /sleeping doesn’t really hide one’s body from the image.

Grrr. It’s still possible, but very annoying to try and find workable angles on the asura, whereas I can pretty much just hide interface and /sleep on a charr anywhere and not have to worry about it, beyond the odd shoulder or arm spike getting in the way *hides everything.*

So it looks like I will have to do my screenshots with my tallbies, one of whom has completed map exploration – which would at least make waypointing convenient, but not get me anywhere in terms of map completion, or with the rest at some 40-50% completion, the partial fog of war making it a bit hard to figure out just where I’ve been or not that particular session… bleh, still deciding.

One thing’s for sure.

I tried experimentally doing Metrica Province and Caledon Forest today to get an idea of the time it might take for each zone, and I noticed that I was absolutely playing the game in a different manner, with my goal to look for beauty, rather than the next thing on the to-be-completed list.

gw2-caledon

The act of photography really prompts a lot more in-the-moment mindfulness and a new way of seeing, making you more aware of things you would previously not have seen, being so focused on doing your other mundane things.

Perhaps we should all try playing (or even living) as if we might never see the zone we’re standing in again, rather than assuming it’ll be around for forever.

Isn’t That What You Do in Every MMO? Have Fun?

Happy Holidays... from not-so-spikey charr...

Back when I was a serious [insert game here] player, […] I played to be the best.  I can look back and say from experience that the mindset exists and people fall into it without even realizing what they’re doing.  One day you wake up and have this epiphany that what you’re doing isn’t fun.

Keen [editing in brackets, mine]

Some days you just want to laugh. And chuckle. And grin a lot.

Keen might be someone who gets immensely hyped for the next big thing and then just as promptly deflates in three months because it wasn’t the dream sandbox MMO he was looking for, who then proceeds to do it all over again without learning from the last time – but I guess even the young grow old some day.

He’s closing in on 30, he says. Me, I’m kinda past that mark quite a while ago.

The story and the epiphany is the same. It’s not the MMO per se. It’s the mindset.

Yes, some MMOs have a design that skews you towards this “win” “be the best” “be prestigious” mindset a lot more swiftly than others. True, in some games, it’s the one main road, the linear flow that channels everyone towards to it and it’s much harder to step back or away from such things.

Yes, your very first MMO (or online game), the one you walk into wide-eyed with a blank slate, ready to absorb the majority way of thinking about what’s the “right” (efficiency optimal) thing to do is the one where you’re most prone to tumbling down that pit of gradually-becoming-not-fun-but-endure-to-be-the-best.

The irony of it is that Keen holds up Everquest as the game where he had the most casual, sandbox fun. From his previous posts, it seemed he even indulged in a bit of roleplaying as halflings there.

Me, I avoided Everquest like the plague because it was looking to be a carbon copy clone of a MUD I had already burned out on, just in graphics form. A world at the beginning, which gradually narrowed again at the top to be all about gear and raids and being the prestigious first to drop a big mob and drop RNG loot.

I’m dead certain you can find players out there who did play EQ as their serious raid game and then subsequently burned out of raiding and gave WoW a miss.

It’s not -solely- the fault of the game.

It’s also about where we as players were at that point in our gaming lives.

I, too, used to think it was down to me to save everybody else’s souls. Lemme tell you, being the minority burned-out cynical voice in a sea of awestruck WoW newbies often meant being drowned out in the face of fanboy fanaticism.

Eventually, I learned the value of patience and letting folks arrive at their own wisdom in their own time.

For some, raiding was something they would never burn out of. It suited their personalities and their preferences to a T. Little wonder they would be perfectly fine with a game that holds up that minigame as the ideal to always strive toward.

For others, their epiphanies would hit them years down the road. But it was a road they had to travel to learn it. Just as we did.

I’m not much of a list maker, so I won’t be posting long numerical lists this holiday season.

But on this Christmas eve, I’d like to ask all of you to spare a thought for your inner child.

When you play a game, what exactly is it that you find fun?

Playing with others? Playing against others? Playing with your friends or family? Playing by yourself?

Learning something new by discovering it yourself? Learning something new by reading up about it? Learning something new by being taught by someone else? Or preferring the comfort of the old and familiar rather than the new and unknown?

Being the best? In what way? Richest, most powerful, most pretty, most well-known, most well-liked or hated, most eccentric, most OCD? Or “mosts” and “bests” don’t interest you at all?

There are games out there that match better to your preferences than others. Go find them, and have fun – your special brand of fun – rather than be stuck in a game where you’re unhappy because it’s the only one you know.