Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wintersday is AMAZING! A quick review.

I didn't log in until 10:00 pm central on 14 Dec.  i didn't now what to expect.  I was in Metrica Province on my asura and noticed huge gifts laying about, so I opened them.  KABOOM!!! presents and skritt everywhere.  I grab the presents in case they are on a timer or the skritt get them and then dispatch the skritt.

"okay....that was...interesting."  "Wait!  The loot."

I check through the inventory, find the gifts and I got a .....what?   A dirty ole sock!   Well not to be deterred I started hunting the map for gifts falling form the sky.  Explosions, skritt and gifts again and again.  I finally got some snow flakes, which fetched almost 2 silver a piece on the trading post. 

Curiosity has me now by the neck and I have to go see Lion's Arch.  I get to LA via the PvP/Mists quick travel.  The loading screen is gorgeous. 

I come out of the Vigil's fort, over the bridge and into a visual winter decoration eye-candy feast.  I'm blown away.  All I can do is just stand and watch, charr, kodan, tengu, skritt, and every other race throw snow balls at each other.  I notice a snow ball pile, grab some and start pelting.  Oh, and if you chuck a snowball at anyone, expect the NPCs to hit you back.  A snowball fight is a quintessential winter past time;  I can only imagine the snowball fights that will ensue as the Christmas holidays go on. 

A polar bear having a snowball fight with a human child.  There's a Coca-Cola commercial in there some where.


Notice the Tengu has the big pile of snowballs.

Told you the Kodan can throw hard.

As I made my way toward the genie I was met with a fantastic sight.  The genie is now a massive snow globe and the area is decorated with presents, floating glass stars, snowflakes, evergreen trees and snow, snow, snow, snow!  I'm telling you all, ANet put that vista on the bridge so all the screen shot junkies could take snap shots of the genie during every holiday season event.

The fountains redesign is just magical and amazing!

I then jumped in the the jumping puzzle.  Yes, you go into the jumping puzzle and it is HUGE!  In addition, players have to keep jumping.  Stand still and the snow flakes melt or you can get frostbite.  This thing is fun, even though I haven't gotten past the first part!  

Here are some shots of the puzzle from the starting point.  I'm totally amazed and the sheer size of the puzzle, its design and just all the attention put into it.

The next event I tried was the Guitar Hero inspired bell game.  Colored me impressed on this one, it is quite creative.  Upon entering a new song the players are place on a stage with two other players.  Your skills become notes associated with the colors painted on the stage.  

Glowing orbs start at the end of the stage and will move toward you.  When they hit the white line you have to hit the correct note/color on keys 1-4 or 6-9.  The songs become progressively harder; I actually got to the fourth round and it was tough.  I think with a little practice players can pick this up pretty quick, of course they'll need a lil' bit of rhythm.  Also, after some songs you get a "free play" for about 30 seconds wherein you can play what ever song you like.

Hit 8! No Blue!  I mean...what color is that?
   Finally, I got in the the snowball fight on steroids, "Snowball Mayhem"!!!!

Two teams are trying to get a gift near the center of the map and carry it back to their base, essentially capture the flag.  However, each player must choose a role: scout, heavy gunner or supporter.  Each role can do specific things.  Scouts are a hunter/thief mix with rapid shooting, a stealth and an awesome snowball sniper skill.  Heavy gunner is just that, massive spiked snow ball shooter with a mix of other heavy hitting shots but a slow mover when their skills are deployed.  The supporter is a blast!  players can lay down ice slicks, snow walls, a heal or turn themselves into a massive snowball and run people over!  I vote this best skill in Wintersday, you have to try it.

Yes, that is my Asura as a massive snowball.
 Folks, Wintersday has blown me away.  I thought I knew what level of detail and design to expect after halloween but this exceeded my expectations.  Oh and the music, I can't forget to comment on the music.  The music is perfect holiday, winter wonderland themed music, it perfectly fits.  I am going to enjoy myself thoroughly this Christmas season.

See you in Tyria.    

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bah Bye Bots. Bah Bye now. Bah Bye.

Mike Lewis posted on the GW2 official forums a post about the War Against the Bots!  Sounds like a B grade science fiction film, doesn't it?  I am so glad they are after these things.  They can be a pain in the neck but yet sometimes they are a source of fun.  I took a screen shot of the one of those fun moments.  Below there are a set of bots running around Queensdale near where the champ cave troll event occurs.  Can you see where this is going?  Oh yes.  We trolled the troll into the bots path and let the champ troll do all the dirty work.  Pity I didn't get screen shots of that moment.

DIE multi-consonant named nude ranger bots!

Bot hunting was fun I must admit but just for a couple of times.  This helped me remember how ANet handled botting in GW1.  The following video illustrates.

Yes ladies and gents, that is ole' Grenth displaying his extreme displeasure with a bot.  It would be so cool to see that again but I guess it would not fit in with the current story with the six being rather silent and withdrawn these days.  Maybe getting run over by a massive herd of Skritt?  Or a dragon comes down and just swallows them up?  If you got a creative idea post it in the comments.

I know this is not the end of bots.  As long as there are player who buy gold there will be gold farmers.  Nevertheless, I'm glad to see ANet dealing with the issue since it has been a sore spot to so many.  In addition, it reinforces what we should already know - ANet is working through all the kinks of only a 4 month old game and doing a rather good job of it.  

See you in Tyria!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

One Picture Can be Made to Say a Thousand Words

 In a previous post Creation is Awesome I talked about how I'd take a screen shot or picture and work it different ways to see what I can create.  I wanted to share a few examples.

Original picture of a female thief in Divinity's Reach from ANet.
I added an elliptical blur centered on the lady thief.  With the back ground unfocused she becomes the solitary center of attention.  In addition, add a more cooler look to somber the mood down a little bit.

Here I added a drama filter found in the iPad app Snapseed.  It heightens the ambient light and contrast to produce a striking picture.  

I do not know if this is the original of if I worked on this one also but we'll use it as the baseline.

I love these style of pictures!  I used Colorblast! to desaturate the picture and then add back the reds and greens that you see.  I wanted to get the bow also but its base color really didn't stand out from the background so I just declared victory with what you see know.

Here is another example of a center focus but with and added filter on top.

This was a rather epic PvP picture from ANet.  I had to mess with it.

Here again with the drama filter.  Again, it pops out all the little details.

Here I added a drama filter, then a magenta based filter radiating out from the guardian and a frame to polish it off.  It really isn't meant to mean anything, it just looked cool.

This a grunge filter, also found in the Snapseed app.  It produces almost a past memory feel.

Female Norn warrior with an awesome hammer from ANet.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Creation is Awesome!

I love drawing. I did it all the time as a kid. I got into painting, sculpting, building models, setting said models on fire, building more models, ebony pencil, colored pencil, photography...I loved it all. Being a Dad, working and all the chores that come with growing up limits the time I can dedicate to just being creative. When I started seeing concept art for GW2 it just motivated me to do something, anything artistic.

Having an iPad, I started looking for art & photography apps and experimenting with all of them. I've had a awesome time mixing and matching filters, borders and effects. Sometimes I will take one picture and work it four or five different ways just to see what can be done. Amazingly, each one will have a different mood. If you are curious I typically use the following apps:

Snapseed - Essential. It is amazing how powerful and intuitive this apps is. I use this app for editing all my photography and a large part of my composition work.

Procreate - An amazing painting tool app. I have been using it since it came out and I still haven't scratched the surface of what it can do.

Pixlromatic+ - Filters, frames and effects galore. Most of the frames I use comes from this app. The preset color effects at also great but I can create them to my liking in Snapseed.

Colorblast! - A simple app for desaturating (removing color) from a picture and then adding specific colors. For example, a black & white picture of a rose but only the petals are red.

And there are others but I'll discuss them with some examples in a different post.

Below are a number of compositions I've done with original/source art from ANet or unclaimed pictures found on the web. If you know who made the source let me know and I'll gladly credit them.   I'll also apologize upfront if a picture looks pixly,  Picasa sometimes changes the resolution on pictures.  I'm trying to find a better solution for picture hosting.


See you in Tyria!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Centaur Barbers or Having fun with glitches.

There is fun glitch in the cutscenes right now. Some characters have no hair. I'm talking Kojak bald. So as reason would dictate, I had a little fun with the scene.

Now if I can just get a shot of Thackery bald. Ho, ho that would be funny.

See you in Tyria!


LEEROY BLUES and the amazing Afro.

I was up late and in a tired & goofy mood, the kind wherein you laugh at most everything especially if it's not normally funny. During this moment I got a crazy idea. I booted up GW2 and attempted to make the most bombastic character I could come up with. I started plunking around and remembered the afro hairstyle for the humans. Oh yeah! So an elementalist with an afro, a "Village People" mustache and horribly colored suit. Ladies and Gents, I present...

You know you love him.
After the starter area, I start running around Shaemoor attacking things and then victory dancing while saying, "Yes, I am all that!". It got so funny I had two lady elementalists follow me and laugh at with me as we removed an invading flock of harpies from the dam. Amidst all the goofiness I noticed the hair animations and i must say i'm pretty impressed. The afro sways, extends backward as I ran, bounces with jumps and stretches when I fell. Oh and when I say stretches, I'm talking Marge Simpson hair. Look at this!
Now when Leeroy busts out dancing he puts on some serious grooves! I kept thinking Dance-Dance Revolution for some reason as I watched him break it down in front of Dwana's statue. I think the outrageousness of it all just made me laugh hard.

I think it would be a good thing for everyone to have a "joke" character. Something that really is a total toon. They can be so much fun since they stick out like sore thumbs.

I'll leave with this final shot. I was experimenting with different camera angles for screen shots and I like how this one turned out.

P.S. yes I did run around yelling "LEEROY!" then diving into combat.

See you in Tyria!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How Stats Affect You - the work of Tasha Darke

I was roaming the internet looking for information on stats in GW2. My toons are starting to get up in level and gear is becoming more and more important. I also started crafting and fiddling around with relics, sigils, jewels, etc. but to be honest, I have a low grasp on how different stats truly affect my characters. I happened upon a post at Attached to Keyboard which was quite illuminating and I wanted to share them.

The first post you need to read is Attributes and Equipment in Guild Wars 2. Tasha does an excellent job describing primary and secondary attributes and what they affect, how condition damage is calculated, what are the base health pools at level 80 and how to improve everything through armor and accessories. There is a lot of detail and information and I've found it to be a fantastic reference guide for helping my choose armor depending on what I'm looking for. in my build/play-style. And if that were not enough, she discusses back items (I didn't know we could have these!), crests, sigils, runes and aqua breathers.

Power vs Precision is the next post that is a must read. Do you want crit? Raw power? Which is better and how much do you need? Don't know, read the post. She calculates how power and precision affect damage for 1 hit and for 100 hits. She does the math so you don't have to.

Vitality vs Toughness - I cannot recommend this post enough. If you just want to read one, read this. I knew there was a difference between vitality, aka health, and toughness, which only reduces direct damage, but really didn't understand them until reading this post. Ultra condensed understanding - Vitality helps you avoid dying to conditions, toughness keeps you from getting crit'd to the ground. I still go back to this post as a refresher.

I highly recommend checking Tasha's page periodically. She produces excellent posts and information. You can find here page here or in the links section titled "Warband Board".

See you in Tyria!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

When Karka Attack...Attack Back! Lost Shores.

Yesterday I was able to log in and participate in the taking of the Lost Shores.  Oh what a fun and entertaining zerg fest it was.  Being leveled-up to 80 yet still lacking in the gear and skills department,  I decided to equip a scepter/focus on my guardian and a long sword.  I jumped into the melee fray just long enough to get in some hits, light a karka on fire, drop a seal and then got out of the area so I could spam long range attacks.  It was challenging.  It was fun.  We had folks weaving in heals, running in to revive others, boons going off left and right, spamming condition removers, it was GREAT!

Join the Lion Guard today!  Explore distant new lands.  Discover new creatures and kill them!
 In addition, I got to see the establishment/building of all the camps and bridges that are now a permanent part of the island.  One fella joked, "Whenever I come back here I can say I was here when they built this bridge!"  He was right.  As a one time event that will not be repeated it was enjoyable to be a part of the experience precisely because it was a singular and unique event.  Some players might have a problem with this, I for one do not.  I know I will not be part of every special event, kinda like real life.  Sometimes we are there to witness things happen and sometimes we miss them only to see the after effect.  It is a bold move by ANet but one I think is good for the game.  For a more in depth discussion on transient events I suggest reading Syl's post "Experiencing Event, Impacts and Player Mindset" over at Raging Monkeys.

I have not had a chance to participate in the fractal dungeon yet so I can't write about it.  Nevertheless, if you are curious about it, Emtombed has a good post titled Fractals and Frizzles wherein he explains his experiences with the new style dungeon.

For what little I could participate, I greatly enjoyed myself and hope other players did too.   I am enjoying how ANet is implementing stories or events in chapters or acts.  They still need some polish and that will improve with each one they produce, but for a game to be out only a few months and offer us all this for free, i.e. no subs, I'm impressed.

See you in Tyria!

--Random Screen Shots--
That is one BIG Asuran laser.  I wonder if they are compensating for something?

Champion karka hit have a jump attack that hits HARD!  Luckily I was revived by another player.

I don't know if this is a glitch or on purpose but I thought it funny.  Joe Ranger: "This island is full of abnormal and vicious creatures!"  Bill Elementalist:  "No it's not, it says it's normal all over the ground."  "Nothing to worry about."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Zomorros Speaks! and gets bored with me.

With karka running amok the enigmatic genie of Lion's Arch has decided to revel himself a little and speak to Tyrians.  I present my little conversation. (click to embiggin)

So what do we learn.  Karka are really old creatures from the dawn of Tyria and the Quaggan, Hylek and Largos (haven't met them yet) can fill us in on the details.  By the way, I love how, "The Mighty Zommoros has spoken." equals "I'm bored now."  hehe.

I also discovered the lighthouse has been snapped in two. Lion's Arch just can't get a break can they?  
Of course I dive into the monster infested waters to see what I can see and I find the other portion of the lighthouse in the water.

I must say, I'm impressed that ANet has no qualms about destroying part of the world and then rebuilding it as part of telling the story.  For example, Lion's Arch is slowly rebuilding the the main fountain again after King Thorn destroyed it. 

I know I will not be able to participate in everything that is going to happen during the "Lost Shores" weekend and that is fine.  It's kinda like real life, you see somethings, you miss others because you have priorities.  Nevertheless, I'm going to poke around all over the place and see as much as I can when I have a chance.

See you in Tyria!