I roll up a warrior, take a quick glance at the Berserker elite spec, decide it looks too confusing and too condition-based for me to bother trying to craft a build for it (dealing with all those items that pop out of the chest is so annoying), then just recreate my standard variant of PS/EA zerker with quick breathing warhorn and go walk around the new map.
After following a few event chains in a big circle and thinking that:
a) most of it feels relatively great and/or acceptable, with funny character stories (the quaggans are a dear, the nobles are a hoot),
b) there aren’t currently enough events on show to really level Masteries quickly – I’m just past the first glider unlock and bouncing mushrooms, and that was with 1/3 of the bar cheated from bringing in the reward chest from racial city exploration into the jungle
c) the Mordrem and hylek waves are really overdoing/overstaying their welcome by one or two waves too many
d) the big fat Xocotl Crusher mobs / event probably needs a serious relook at his breakbar, current amount of hp amd how it scales
In a zerg of 40+ when the beta hordes first descended, the breakbar melted super-quickly, probably because there were at least a few people testing out an elite spec that automatically applied some forms of cc, and his hp felt tanky and decidedly higher than most mobs, but not annoyingly so.
In a group of under 10 a day or two later, not only was breaking the breakbar like pulling teeth (though one can easily excuse this to players not learning yet, including timing dodges to when he draws back his weapon), -after- the breakbar was broken, it took -forever- to bring down his hp (and the breakbar managed to come back up twice.)
e) the delay on pulling up the glider is back a tinge, which is awkward, I preferred the smoother feeling of the last beta version of the glider pull out
I also realized that given the slow pace of Mastery leveling in this part of the jungle, and reluctance to repetively follow an event chain over and over again, what I really would rather end up doing was climbing up to high places and taking screenshots.
Day versus night in the jungle, pretty well done.
It all looks a lot better from afar than deep in the bushes, I have to say.
Nor was the announcement as ideal or detailed as one had hoped, but about as decent as it could be, I guess.
Raids are now confirmed to exist as a 10-person instanced challenging group content that will test the abilities of players to coordinate and use GW2’s action combat system to its fullest potential.
No attunements – so we at least avoid the ludicrous 12-step hamster wheel to even qualify to enter a raid. Apparently you just walk up to the door and you can go in to get your face smashed any time you’d like.
However, it -is- going to involve the heavy use of Masteries to get certain phases completed.
The example given was that one group would have to clear an escape path before the big ol’ raid boss nuked everyone to kingdom come, while the other group kept big ol’ raid boss distracted/controlled/damaged, and then everyone would have to run the hell away to the edge and glide around for a bit while said nuke went off.
Sorry, guys, while this is not an attunement per se, imo, this is pre-required grind with a different name. If your gliding mastery ain’t high enough, you’re not going to stay aloft for that long, right?
The only mitigating factor is that you’d probably only need a few specific Masteries for specific raid bosses (once the strategies are figured out) so that newcomers would only have to do that bit of ‘lateral’ progression grind.
It was repeatedly stressed that all the classes (ahem, professions) in GW2 are capable of builds that produce damage/control/support (aka fluid combat roles) so that you could play your favorite profession, rather than be forced to wait around for half an hour for a healer to be available, or be asked to play another profession cos X other player isn’t around…
… good and sound, in theory. We’ll see how long that lasts in the hands of players, who are liable to decide that Y class brings the most Z to the table, and therefore Y class is the meta.
I’m not sure what to think regarding the specific number of 10.
On one hand, the low number (aka 2 groups) does provide an arrangement where each player can play a visible important role that isn’t drowned out by visual chaos. It’s easier to match schedules for a smaller group of players, and so on.
On the other hand, if you’re the 11th player, it may not be that easy to find raid-ready groups.
We’ve yet to see just how the formation of this would play out though – can a randomly assembled PUG of 10 be expected to manage the difficulty, or is it going to be a more guild/teamspeak-only kind of affair? Dunno. We’ll have to see.
The big raid reward announcement is that it’s going to be possible to get Legendary armor off raids. Which is really good and appropriate, imo.
Stat-wise, no different from Ascended gear, but it’ll still have that piece by piece build up and show off factor, AND be extra-convenient for stat-switching… which you might expect future raids to require (shifting from zerker to tankier soldier or nomads to some kind of condi, or what have you.)
We’ve yet to see if this is going to come via random RNG drop or some form of gradual earning/token buy system though. The website phrasing says “earn” so hopefully, the latter is the case or is at least possible.
I’m not sure if the concept of Legendary armor imposes any kind of mandatory pressure to raiding. I don’t -think- so, given that the stats are the same as Ascended, and the existing concept of Legendary weapons being entirely optional. But I’m not sure how others might perceive it.
The other piece of good news is that GW2 raids will make use of the dynamic event system, so that has the potential for a goodly amount of task flexibility (beyond kill giant boss monster) and event chaining for raid content.
The underlying principles of no insane vertical gear progression and trying to cut out all the inconvenient and annoying aspects of raiding, while keeping the good stuff, were repeatedly stressed as well.
The concept of making Heart of Thorns basically contain ‘endgame’ content for all and sundry, of which one subset are PvE players who like raids, (PvP players included, though I note they carefully didn’t mention WvW players) was also covered.
So at least the heart, philosophy and plan are in the right places… even if the reality might not quite match up to the hoped-for plan once it comes into effect…
I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see how it all plays out.
I’m not super-stoked, but I’m not freaking out either – which about as much as could be expected, I guess.
This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 29.
I’m really not current with these kinds of things, so it’s purely bizarre random chance that I followed a sequence of web links that led me to the realization that:
a) They’re making Hitman the video game series into a movie.
(Again. It’s a reboot, I must have missed the first, which appeared to have been roundly panned by most critics, save Roger Ebert, who might have decided to add a little more subtlety to his review after running afoul of the 4375+ comment responses to his statement that “video games aren’t art” the year before, but received a “ehhh, not too bad” from popular audiences.)
b) It’s coming out next week.
c) Hitman: Agent 47 was filmed on location in Berlin and in Singapore.
Whoooaaa. Come again? Singapore? Really? As in modern-day city-state Singapore, rather than fictitious not-at-all-anywhere-resembling-historical-fact-but-fantasy-cool Pirates of the Carribean Singapore?
Well, ok, they’re throwing in a hefty portion of superhero-like genetic super-soldiers and Hollywood-style explosions, so it’s not going to 100% reflect reality either, but still… “COOL.”
(P.S. Any Singaporean will tell you that there are not that many taxi cabs on our streets. Ever. Especially when you need to hail one down. They’re practically an endangered species.)
I think this is going to be essentially the first time that modern-day Singapore is going to be projected up on the big screen for a global (and specifically Western) audience in Hollywood fashion, not withstanding various TV documentaries (mostly about food, I’m sure), an odd Bollywood superhero movie or two, or a whole bunch of local/regional films.
Especially with the very recent additions to the Marina Bay skyline.
And I’m kind of strangely excited about the whole state of affairs.
Lazy pragmatic cynic I might be, but there’s still enough nationalistic pride left over from all that propaganda from our country’s 50th birthday and suspiciously-impending general elections to be thrilled that the world is going to see this crazy place we call home as a backdrop to a HOLLYWOOD action thriller movie, no doubt seeming as exotic as Hong Kong tends to be associated with, in that sort of action/spy movie genre.
Plus, I’m anticipating that the reaction in our local cinemas is going to be an absolutely hilarious mix of “oohs and ahhs” at the more explosively neat special effects and stunts, plus “ROFLs and LOLs” when we see some of our mundane landmarks dressed up in completely-nothing-resembling-reality fashion… like a plane hangar with black-clad rifle-bearing soldiers… that actually resides in one of our technical educational institutes for aerospace classes.
(It’s really going to crack me up if they use it as the set for the super-sekrit evil genetic lab base where superpowered Agents are made…)
Well, the trailers don’t look too bad… when judged from a brainless action movie flick perspective, mind you, I wouldn’t watch this for plot or storytelling. If it sort of manages to make coherent (if cliched) sense, it’ll already be great.
I think I’m just going to be thrilled to see home gussied up, Hollywood style.
Oh, and that they’re also cashing in on video game tie-ins these days, besides superhero and fantasy book-tie ins? Double bonus. So much mainstreaming (which leads to cultural acceptance) of my favorite hobby interests. Everybody wins.
… except I just downloaded Hitman: Codename 47 (the first game) off Steam – somehow I’ve collected the whole series in a sale and never quite got around to them – and am getting my butt kicked. Repeatedly.
I vaguely recall trying a Hitman game once upon a time, though I can’t remember which, and encountering a similar state of affairs.
Fans make a big deal out of the series giving you the freedom to complete levels via multiple solutions – some sneaky, some of the “gun them all down” variety – it’s done more often now, but back then, I think Deus Ex and Hitman were pretty much it.
What I keep personally encountering is a game series that is perfectly okay with you coming into the level completely blind, scouting it out a few times via unsuccessful attempts to get a ‘feel’ for the scripting of the NPCs and where the possible solutions are located, attempting the perfect execution of the puzzle solution several times more via death-and-repeat trial-and-error gameplay.
I think there’s a group of game players that really enjoy this sort of frustration in their gameplay. They clamor for ‘hard mode’ content like Dark Souls or Super Meat Boy where they have to bang their heads against a particular section repeatedly, dying and restarting, dying and restarting, until they either pass, or better, ace it with flying colors.
I’m a little less sure about how I feel about that kind of gameplay. It does usually tilt more to the frustration=no fun side for me, rather than the other way around.
Of course, it may just be non-polished issues with the first game. The default controls are anything but. They started out in a numpad layout. There was a “WASD” option, so I hit that, and the usual S key for backward? It was walk forward… because W was taken up with run forward. And they shifted walk backward to X. ‘R’ didn’t even stand for Reload, a convention that I thought has been in place for years of first and third party shooters that offer guns. I had to rebind practically everything before starting to play.
There were no save mid-game functions… so every time you screwed up – and you can’t help but screw up when you’re coming into it blind and don’t even know what to expect – you began all over again, mission briefing clicking and unavoidable cutscenes included.
Then there’s the funny thing about me and game series, which I daresay is also a problem for other people too.
I feel distinctly odd if I attempt a game sequel (or game 4 or game 5), without having played through the early games in order.
It’s like… aren’t I going to miss a significant part of the story this way, or some of that ‘historical’ experience other gamers would have had, by playing this game series in sequence?
And yet… something about game 1 or game 2 ends up being off-putting, because they’re more primitive and more raw, without the benefit of experience and iteration smoothing out those rough corners, and I find I can’t actually complete or continue the game… yet am reluctant to move on to later sequels.
I have similar problems with Assassin’s Creed, Torchlight II, Orcs Must Die 2 and so on…
(Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 would have been a similar case, except that I did get through 75% of the first game – and finally gave up with the endless side map explorations and charged through to the story’s end via walkthrough – and decided that qualified me to graduate on to 2 when it came out, which was excellent because 2 was a much better game than 1 in so many ways.
And I can see someone getting stuck on the Batman: Arkham games in a similar fashion too, though I thankfully liked that series so much I played through really fast.. just some completionist stuff on Origins left, and waiting for Arkham Knight to not suck.)
Maybe I just need to get over it, especially since I have plenty of hard disk space now, and install the later games and just start and -try- them.
Maybe one will click, and I can use that as a jumping off ground to play the later sequels, and treat the earlier games then as “prequels” that may or may not be played later.
This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the numbers 14 and 47.
Back from business trip, got home at 6pm, completely bushed.
Had a bath, then collapsed into bed, not really sure if it was going to be a nap or if I was going to sleep like the dead until the next morning.
Woke at 9pm.
Just in time to catch the very last sequence of TTS guild missions for the week, albeit with some preliminary cursing and swearing as my internet has been dropping out intermittently lately.
(I need to figure out the cause eventually, possibly something to do with the Killer NIC software/drivers or ethernet adapters not playing nicely together, or router issues, or is it my ISP, but thankfully, I installed a motherboard with -two- ethernet connections, one Intel, one Killer NIC, and I’ve experienced this problem before.
Then, what solved it was yanking out the Ethernet cable from the Intel adapter and sticking it into the Killer NIC one, which suddenly and completely stabilized the connection for months.
Now that it’s doing the same damn thing again, it’s time to do the opposite, yank it out of the Killer NIC one and stick it back into the Intel one, which *touches wood* seems to have resolved the issue. Weird.)
Finished guild missions. Open Reddit and blogs to find out there’s a massive explosion of GW2 news to catch up on, and a massive explosion of blog posts to read since Blaugust is here.
Went down the GW2 news rabbit trail a while: Sweet, the first beta weekend is actually set during my country’s super-long national day holiday celebration for turning 50 years of age (SG50). First time ever that real life and game stuff has coincided so nicely, since you get used to waking up at 3-5am for special game events when you’re living on the other side of the planet as the game developers’ work day.
There’s a massively long post about fractals that I haven’t had time to fully digest yet, and a whole bunch of Reddit reactions to it.
GW2 seems to be revving up to do some kind of big announcement at Gamescom 2015 too… possibly the anticipated “challenging group content.”
(Every time I say or type the phrase, it comes with this little bit of impending dread trickling down the back of my spine.)
As for Blaugust, well, I kinda want to join it so that my faithful readers have a whole lot of nice things to read for the month of August, to make up for my dead silence of July. I kinda want to get back into the blog posting habit. I kinda want to enjoy the whole social atmosphere of bloggers getting together and cheering each other on.
I haven’t had dinner yet.
I go out to the kitchen, reheat some leftovers, scan through the whole flood of Blaugust-related posts, and kinda groan about the whole “gotta sign up for Anook” thing, the “please update your posts here and there to make everyone’s lives easier,” the “hey, do use Twitter to announce your stuff” (I HATE TWITTER) and all the attendant administrative stuff that completely rips out the joy of writing and posting a nice simple blog post about what’s on your mind and what you’ve been doing and what you want to share.
Whatever happened to the good old days of “Yo, just put me on an RSS reader and check out what I’ve been up to, when you have the time?” All these ‘push’ technologies. *twitch*
I finish dinner.
I kinda want to have an official Blaugust Day 1 post up by the 1st of August (local time). WordPress is a harsh mistress. She -knows- what time you post.
So you know what? Here, I’ll steal my Reddit post about raids and the anticipation of probable raids in GW2, clean it up a tide, and post it as food for thought:
I’m against raids that are similar to how other MMOs do raids, with design choices that promote exclusion, elitism and guild drama.
That means things like:
a repeating gear treadmill/hamster wheel for more and more stats on your gear to improve your performance so that you can kill bigger and badder bosses;
an RNG loot system where either people get jealous of other people getting stuff they also want or feel they’re never progressing or worse, are backsliding because everyone else is getting more powerful;
where people feel encouraged to jump guilds because they got lucky with drops and the rest are ‘too slow’ for them;
where others feel they can or should or have no choice but to kick their own fellow guildies out from participating in raids because their performance is not up to snuff, rather than helping them learn and getting better, and so on.
I probably wouldn’t mind guild-based instances in GW2 if:
you get challenging PvE content (including getting to fight really big monsters) as a guild group;
where you can earn individual tokens or progress on an individual reward track per raid you attend so that you’re not at the whims of RNG;
where the guild as a whole has a different progression track to unlock bigger and badder monsters (preferably with some nifty guild hall rewards like trophies to show how far the group has gotten);
where raids can flexibly scale to the number of guildies you bring, rather than force a leader to bench someone because oops, only 15 people or whatever;
and most importantly where the stats playing field is, more or less, level between someone who had to tend to real life for a couple of months and someone who raids fanatically daily (or however frequently the raids occur) so that the former people do not get left behind, left out and otherwise excluded from learning the raid at any time. (See existing guild missions and triple trouble as good examples, anyone can be new even now, and still join in, learn how to do it and contribute equally.)
I may elaborate on it further later on. Feel free to jump on the topic or comment as you like.
As for the Anook thing, and other administrative details, you know what… I’ll deal with it tomorrow.
First reaction on hearing the rumor / news? Damn, some passionate folks are out of a job.
If there’s one thing Massively did right, it’s making their news and article writers very recognizable people with their own opinions and personalities, especially since a number of them also have their own personal blogs in our part of MMO blogosphere town.
Second reaction? Well, crud.
If there’s another thing Massively did right, it’s be a really comprehensive summary list of MMO news and things of interest happening in the MMO world.
Lately, I’ve almost never clicked through to read an article – mostly because specific MMO news these days ain’t that exciting to me, and for one other reason I’ll get to below – but it’s always been good for skimming through headlines on an RSS feed and getting a feel of what different MMOs out there (including many one will have never heard of otherwise) are doing.
But I can also empathize with a currently very unpopular opinion and post whom some others are reading as being a jerk dancing on someone’s grave, in that there’s one thing I’ll be glad about seeing Massively go.
The quality of the culture and the comments around the articles started going down the toilet a year or two ago, and has pretty much hit rock bottom these days.
-That- actively repels me from a click through because I don’t want to scroll down and end up seeing another flame war, replete with Massively trolls going at each other and anyone not yet savvy enough to recognize them.
A long time ago, when Massively first started, things were very different.
Comments were Rock, Paper, Shotgun-quality or higher, a bunch of bloggers were all hanging out there, and I had a really good time and run as a commenter there, which imo, got my name out there and recognized before I decided it was time to carve out my own lil place on the internet.
I’m really not sure what happened down the road, maybe it was just a side effect of too much popularity, maybe AOL was remunerating based on click-throughs, hits and comments and it was more profitable to let a combative , troll culture rage unchecked and get more people responding that way, maybe the comment system AOL made them use just sucked with moderating tools (I vividly remember a total inability to edit comments for a long time, fer instance) but something happened…
And it just made the bottom of the articles a really unpleasant place to be for me, especially when they somehow managed to attract a Positivity Troll whose name I recognized from the City of Heroes forums.
Every now and then, I would try to get back into the community swing of things with an odd comment or two, usually during the Daily Grind articles which I was quite fond of for coming up with thought-provoking questions and seeking reader opinion and input, and generally end up repeled by something or other.
The absolute straw on the camel’s back for me was when I tried to add a little humor with one comment, in my usual sardonic style, and guess what, my comment got deleted, presumably being read by the editor as a troll, while a whole lot of other trolls were running rampant.
Well, I guess I don’t fit as part of the Massively community any more then. Cheers, see you, I’ll be hermiting over here on my corner of the internet, where people who don’t like me or my opinions can decide to stop reading me – no offense taken – and where people who do can stick around.
And that was basically how I took myself out of the Massively commenting community and stopped contributing to clicks and pageviews for the most part.
An inhospitable, controversy-fond social environment / culture had formed and no one was actively community managing or cleaning it up to any visible degree of success.
Do I really want to see Massively go?
As I said, I’m sorry for the writerly guys and gals who are now out of a job. I hope they can move on to other better things and get a good income stream going again quickly.
I’m sorry for the loss of a news-aggregating site who covered MMOs primarily and did a good job at providing a specific kind of news service.
But, in this ever-changing world, the only constant is change and even institutions and businesses fade, restructure, shut down, grow or be born again. It’s just the natural cycle of things.
And sometimes, if the work environment has suddenly become toxic or intolerable in some way, it can be better in the long term to clear the decks and move on to other things, or give the place a graceful end.
There will still be plenty of folks content with the old way of how it’s always been, and not seeing a problem, of course. “It was doing fine!” They argue. *stares at SWG, stares at City of Heroes*
Somewhere, behind the scene, a bunch of suits were looking at the numbers. Sorry, but business is almost always about the numbers.
Sure, if you care about it, go ahead and appeal, petition, cling onto hope. If there’s enough of you (those numbers again), you can even change minds sometimes. So that’s good.
But if that doesn’t work out, then we may as well gracefully accept that things change, and then move on to better things – even if we have to MAKE them or the opportunities ourselves.
I hope to see another MMO news aggregator eventually step up into Massively’s place, grabbing hold of its strengths and the niche it was serving, but hopefully rehashing none of its mistakes – eg. having AOL as its boss, allowing a cesspool of a comment community to form and linger, etc.