Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sylvari, the Peculiar Plant People.

As many others, I finally got a chance to play the Sylvari during the final beta event and it was interesting. In full disclosure, I have never "clicked" with elf style races of a game. Night Blood High, low, monochromatic, just didn't matter-no elves. Maybe it is the whole natury conection to everything, I don't know. So I brought some baggage to the Sylvari playing experience; nevertheless, the results was 50/50.

Alien but exotic, fluorescent glow included.
Character creation is amazing. ANet has convincingly created a plant based humanoid race that is both alien and exotic yet familiar and simple. You can choose from very distinct faces; some look bark-like, others petals, some leaves. Ears can range from buds to pointed elf styled. Eyes can be pupil-less or have purple irises. Body colors cover the entire range of spring, summer and autumn. Now, if that were not enough, Anet added selectable bio-luminescence patterns. Great detail was invested into the creation of this race and players will enjoy it.

The story starts immediately with the me in the Dream and said Dream is under attack. Okay, here is where I star thinking Emerald Dream? Are we already going down the Night Elf path? Good news, No. The Dream is a pre-existence state of the Sylvari, I imagine it's while they're developing in their pods. They are hooked into the Dream similar to how humans where hooked into the Matrix. This attack was an attempt to pollute and corrupt developing Sylvari new borns, of which you are one.

Why was my Sylvari born with a mace?
At the end, I fight the biggest beginning area boss I've ever seen, a dragon made of tree parts and afterward I'm brought into the Tyrian world wearing only the proverbial fig leaf.

So far so good, things are clicking nicely. Now the main starting area begins like all the others. Talk to the map guy blah,blah,blah,blah,blah. Look for hearts, um wait, where am I? Do I go north or left? For me, The Grove is one confusing here, there, wrap around, where am I location. I really had no idea where I was going so I just followed the zerg herd and still ended up someplace where dead people pop out of the ground. Can we say, Tyrian zombies. BTW, if a zombie eats a Sylvari, is it eating vegitarian? I finally got away from the zombies only to end up on a bug hunt i.e. kill spiders. I did like ANets Alice In Wonderland reference, eating the mushrooms to shrink or grow.

A thief named Vash Stampede. Why not...why not.
I didn't get to far with the Sylvari however. I just couldn't get into the area and what was going on. It just seemed very general over all, but then again the human area is similar; however you are helping people after a large centaur attack so still at least there is a focused reason. The Grove feels more like house keeping - little things here and there. Nevertheless, the personal story has a very compelling start. Preliminary dealings with the Nightmare Court show these are some serious apostate Sylvari who are bent on corrupting the Pale Tree's children. I don't want to spoil anything but if you want some spoilers read Aly's post at Mistress of Illusion.

ANet, Cameron is calling. He wants to use The Grove for Avatar 2.
All in all the Sylvar are a fantastic race that many people will enjoy. I'm still a die hard Charr and Asura fan but I will eventually try the Sylvari again after the game goes live since I really want to see how the personal story evolves. I guess they just need time to grow on me.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Anime Law #34 - Law of Improbable Attire

Indecent Invulnerability - Bikinis render the wearer invulnerable to any form of damage.

Ahh, the Laws of Anime can apply in so many areas.  Granted, the Norn Mesmer is not wearing a bikini but comparing her combat clothes to her city clothes makes me wonder if she has a shield generator hidden some where.

Norn women, the Amazon Vikings of Tyria.  They are loud, tough and strong.  BUT, what they are not are grande-sized, dainty faced humans.  I simply cannot expect a woman living in the cold mountains where running water is limited and baths are few, to look like the cover girl of Vogue.  I'm not sure why Arena Net doesn't provide more hardened female faces, faces that show the endurance of many winters and battles.  I think it can be done.  I think a strong fighting figured woman can have feminine features but still retain that rough edge.  Think Bridgette Nielson circa 1985 as Red Sonja, she'd make a perfect Norn.  She might just be one.

Please ANet, gives us more Bridgett Nelson and less Dolly Parton.

Asurans-Concentrated Magnificence

As I've previously stated on in a previous post, I am one dedicated Charr fan. However, after playing the Asura I have made room for my alts. I will have a couple Asura runnign around causing havoc in Tyria and boy will it be fun. Interesting how I find the two most technical races so appealing. But why the acceptance of Tyria's diminutive race? They are snarky geniuses that near embody ever insane but brilliant plan I carried out as a child. Yes, I was one of those kids that loved chemistry and mixed all sorts of household stuff in an attempt to make things go boom. Scary part was I succeed on some occasions :)

Short in stature, tall in power, narrow of purpose and wide of vision!

Call me cute and my golem will rip your arms off.
To begin with, my only experience with a diminutive MMO race was gnomes or goblins in WoW. I couldn't stand playing either one of them. So I entered into the asura character creation with a little trepidation. After seeing the face selection options, my worries started to drop. Bulldog ugly is the way to describe some of them. Bulldogs are a not the prettiest things in the world, but they are cool looking. What they lack in pretty, they make up for in attitude. I ended up creating two Asura, a mesmer and a warrior. The memser and the Asura just fit like hand and glove. A vicious little genius who is more than happy to twist your mind, kick your behind then use a transporter to drop you in the middle of nowhere. My asura warrior is a scream! Seeing that little guy haul a huge hammer around on his shoulders and near topple over is just priceless. The best part is the adrenaline attack for a one handed sword. They’re a yoda-like tornado of fury.

See, pyramid-like cube structures.

The Asura area is astonishing. Floating pyramid-like cube structures (yes, I can say pyramid-like cube structures), techno-magic screens and arcane powered robotic golems are everywhere. Oh! And the scale of Rata's big. I wonder if the Charr and Asura will compete to see who can create the largest structure, kinda like what we do with skyscrapers. Since the Asurans where booted out of their old home, they are making themselves masters of this domain. You get the feeling nothing is going to force them to move again.

As I wandered around Metrica Province I came across an NPC golem battle. Right here is a great reason to love the Asura - MECHA BATTLES. The ref starts out saying, "I'm not expecting a fair fight gentlemen, so don't disappoint me." The Golems actually fight, there is a winner/loser and the winner goes of gloating. I wonder if the winners change through a dynamic event or just random selection. Either way, this is just another one of those great touches ANet has added to enrich the "alive' feeling of the area.


Snark Master General

Asurans talk big and enforce their big talk with big weapons. As I was going through the personal story, you come across the Inquest. I'll leave it at that so I do not spoil to much but check out the conversation between Zojja and Teyo. Talk about a great one liner and it doesn't stop there. Through out the playable portions of the personal story, they talk about breaking people and their stuff. It reminds me of Stark's attitude in The Avengers movie where Thor nabs Loki and Stark goes after him. Stark shoots Thor, who threatens Stark and Stark's come back is "Don't touch my stuff." It's that kind of attitude that makes them so enjoyable to play. Also, you have a chance to talk to an Inquest recruiter. You can respond with a charm, dignity or fierce answer but afterwards click on him again and see the conversation. What a delicious cut-down!


There was another big surprise toward the end of the intro area - Mr Sparkles! I remember reading about him in Mr. Sparkles, A Tale of the Asura. I read that story to my boys and they loved it. So when I'm playing in the beta and see him I had to call my boys to see it. We thought it was a pretty awesome rendition and yes, Mr Sparkles kicks some serious "behind."

Categorized Miscellanea

Arena Net has hit a home run with this race. I will be playing the Asura and I will be having a blast with them. Please enjoy the following screenshots of some of the amusing things I found. Oh and the Hylek really do try to catch flies.

Progeny. Not children mind you but Progeny.
Mr Sparkles incarnate.

Yes, that is the Hylek's tongue and he likes glowbugs.
You can tell it's a "bad guy's" 'cause it's red.

Mesmer with clones and a phantasm.



Friday, July 27, 2012

BWE3-There is so much I want to say, but I can only say so much.

BWE 3 was fantastic!  In spite of traveling with family for vacation,  I was able play a great deal.  I have soo much to say, I going to break it down into a couple of posts.
So without further adieu...

I made a human guardian to show one of my nephews what they looked like.  As I was running around Queensdale I notice the music sounded very familiar.  As a matter of fact, it reminded me alot of the starter area music outside Ascalon city in GW1.  I'm not a 100% sure but I think it's either the same song or the GW2 music is a version of the GW1.  If this is the case, that is so cool.  Anyone know for sure?

Old Friend, New Fun

What an odd team we are.
Here we are checking out Divinity's Reach.
During this beta event I got to play with a ole friend of mine.  We hadn't played an online game together since the end of WoW's WotLK expansion.  We had an absolute blast, he on his Charr warrior and I on my Asura warrior. He had never been anywhere other than the Charr areas.  He was blown away by the magnitude of the city.  We wandered around just taking in all the sites and being a general nuisance, er I mean well behaved pair of warriors.

I think I've heard of this book before.
 As we wandered around Divinity's Reach we found some book carts and clicked on a few.  Guess what I found..."Edge of Destiny" by Sangjo of Lion's Arch.  We also found another book called "Flora to Faun Over".  I love Arena Net's humor. 

We then went all over Queensdale doing quests, finding vistas and just messing around with all the weapons a warrior can use.  We also learned you can't trade with other players but you can mail them stuff and it reaches them immediately.  I'd loot a socketable stone with +3 power and I didn't need it so I'd mail it to him.  We both look forward to playing GW2 as our metaphorical "bowling night" when the game goes live.

Later, we found a cave way on top of the hills right of Queensdale's dam and there were a group of kids pretending to be members of Destiny's Edge.  I followed one of the boys in and it was a mini event.  I had to answer questions about each member of DE.  When I got enough questions correct the event completed and the kids went on playing.  A fun little find.


I just wanted to comment on how good this game looks on an old system.  I play GW2 on a HP Pavilion dv7, a laptop no less.  So, to get a good frame rate I need drop my setting to the lowest setting possible.  Nevertheless, the game still looks good.  The top pic is at the lowest settings, the bottom pic is at the highest settings.  There is a difference in quality but I play with my screen zoomed out so it's not too terrible.   Arena Net has done a great job on making sure people with older systems will be able to enjoy this game without having to purchase a new system.

Sorry for the extra space but Blogger hates putting pictures side by side for some reason.

Before I had to finally log off I decided to wander around Queensdale and take screen shots.  Below are some of my favorites.

BWE3 was a great way to end my beta time.  I have never been part of a beta before and probably will never participate in one again.  Nonetheless, this was a unique experience to see the game before it goes live and I'm thankful Arena Net did this for all those who prepurchased.

In the next post I'll talk about the Asura and their zaniness.  See you soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Black Citadel General Order #25-15

By order of the Imperitors - All Warbands will ensure that by 19 July at 2330 hours their GW2 client will be updated.  Accomplishing this will prevent delays to game play, severe frustration, inadvertent killing of small creatures and general disorderly conduct.  Warbands found not in compliance will be put on janitorium level duty for a week. 

Tacitus Uberfierce
Tribune, Iron Legion

Monday, July 16, 2012

Put on a happy face!

Virtue or Venom?

The third and final beta is upon us and with it the opportunity to play the last two races, the Asura and the Sylvari. I've been thinking some about Tyria's young population of plant people and wanted to share a few things I've been thinking about.

Painful Discovery

Have you ever seen a child discover a rose for the first time? Many love them for their beautifully arrayed petals, sweet scent and deep variety of colors. As with any inquisitive little one, the next thing they want to do after discovering the flower is picking it. What follows next is a life lesson about nature. They grab the rose and a hand is impaled by numerous hooked thorns. " Look, but don't touch." is the message. Nature is replete with some of the most spectacularly beautiful flowers and plants that are also most lethal. Monkshood, Oleander, and Rhododendron are just a few examples. Think twice before underestimating plant life.

Speaking of plant life, the Sylvari are plants. They are plant people borne of the pale tree, a big plant. They are beautiful, arrayed in petals and an amalgam of leaves. They have a great many shades of color and probably smell like honeysuckle. What happens when you try to "pick" one?

Beautiful but Deadly

What intrigues me about Sylvari is how this race has such beauty, not just physical appearance but their nascent culture, their philosophy, their chivalrous actions and relations. Yet at the same time they have a dangerous side, in some cases poisonous. How will this race deal with death, killing, suffering, all the unfortunate results of creatures using their agency for evil but still remain true to their core principles. It will be most interesting to see.

The Sylvari's dangerous side can be seen in Ree Soesbee's blog post Dream and Nightmare. In it, we have a glimpse of the lethality the youngest Tyrian race. For example, Malomedies had initiated first contact with the Asura. Unfortunately they thought he was an interesting jungle plant and experimented on him. When they realized he was sentient they returned him and offered peace between their races. Cadeyrn, a second generation Sylvari, with mommy issues I might add, immediately reacted. "We must kill them all!""... His hand clenched around the hilt of his sword." That is a pretty belligerent statement for one so young.

We next learn of a Sylvari squad encounter with some krait. This line best describes the incident, "He [Cadeyrn] left nothing behind but scale and scream." As the blog continues, we witness Cadeyrn becoming offended, angry and resentful. He acts like a child not getting his way and as Spike put it, "there is nothing as innocent and yet so cruel as a child."
(Cowboy Bebop-Pierrot Le Fou). Cadeyrn is a microcosm of how bad a Sylvari can get. Don't believe me? Look what he creates later on.


The Nightmare Court is an organization created by Cadeyrn and made up of apostate Sylvari, you could say. Its the anti-Ventari tablet organization and a group of very poisoned plant people.

The Nightmare Court are sylvari who embrace the darkest parts of their nature, relishing a terrifying nightmare that contains as much horror as the Dream holds inspiration. Their dark vigils are things of legend, filled with depravity, twisted courtliness, and sadistic tournaments that pervert sylvari chivalry. Their greatest ambition: to turn the Pale Tree to nightmare. "Dream and Nightmare"
Not only will the race have to deal with dragons but their own internal family rebellion. A second born son who is bound and determined to change his mothers mind about what is right and wrong. Hmmm. I'm going to have to explore that theme some more.  I wonder if we will see a Sylvari civil war, or a redemption story where members of the Nightmare Court see the results of weakening the Sylvari nation and strive to rectify the situation.

I'm excited to play the Sylvari in the next beta. I greatly look forward to exploring the area and the lore but leaving enough for when the game goes live.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Happy Independence Day!!!!

 In honor of this day I will be grilling a good amount of meat, enjoying some excellent draft root beer and orange jigger, spending time with family and friends, and shooting-off a large amount of fireworks. 

Little known fact:  The Charr invented the first Tyrian gas grill.

Also, a very special thanks to the men and women, home and abroad, who defend their nation and the precious freedoms we enjoy.  God bless the armed services, they are an amazing group of folks.

I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday!


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Charrming Charr Charracters

I am so hooked on the Charr.

Oh I may enjoy the Asura or Sylvari when they come out but...I'M LOVIN' THE CHARR.

The entire Charr design, from race to history to current impact on their world is quite fascinating. First off, these were the "bad guys" of GW1. They destroyed Ascalon, your GW1 character's home. You wanted to kill them and liberate your home from those horrible invaders. Except in the Charr's eyes, the humans were the horrible invaders and they wanted them out. And kick them out they did, which brings us to GW2. So who's the oppressor? Who's the liberator? What delicious dichotomous irony!

Charr attitude. It's reflected in their tail swagger, their style, organization, determination, transindustrial architecture, machines. Here is a race that was at the bottom and now are considered metal workers that surpass the ancient dwarves. They even make the best timepieces in Tyria. "Take's a lickin' and keeps on tickin'". I bet they take G-Shock to a whole new level! The charr are responsible for the printing press and disseminating the new Kryta language. They, more specifically the Iron Legion, are on the cutting end of technology. (Would Charr be "analog" and Asurans "digital"? Hmmm.)

For visual examples, check out the following video. Look at the details in the metal work. Support beams are ornate, their are furnaces that are more metallic art vice a mundane foundry. Notice the spherical metal and glass structures, both difficult to create but a subtle testament to Charr ingenuity.

Latin is used extensively in Charr nomenclature, which is extensively cool btw. Its like Arena Net put the Roman Empire and the industrial revolution in a blender, added a shot of whiskey and hit puree. One glass of steampunked, praetorian guard please.

Finally, during the last stress test, I took time to watch the Charr's idle animations to catch some of the subtle details that make them so unique. Watch a charr holding a large hammer - its amazing as the charr test the hammers weight and feel. I also enjoyed some of the lines from the personal story. My favorite was from Reeva, "Did you see those ghosts explode?" "Sparkly"

I can go on and on but suffice it to say, the Charr are one of the most unique races I've encountered in an MMO. There may be many races in Tyria...but this one is mine.




Sunday, July 01, 2012

Testin' but Not Stressin'

I had the opportunity to participate in the stress test on 27 June. I was quite happy to do so since I had missed the majority of the second beta event. I was able to take loads of screen shots, since this might be the last time I see my characters, and retry some classes that have changed since BWE 1. So with out further adieu, a few thoughts -


I did get a chance to play the Mesmer class again. I played a human mesmer way back during BWE 1 and the feel of the clones was off. However, the Mesmer clones worked significantly better this time around. They had a more purposeful feel and the purple dots indicating the number of clones was a welcomed addition. The screen pic shows what the clones look like...amazingly alot like my mesmer.

Real mesmer with a clone on the right.

Question: Do different races start with different weapons/skills or did they change them since BWE 1? I remember the human mesmers started with a sword in BWE 1 but currently the Norn start with a wand.


The World

I really hope the beta community is reflective of the future community that will exist when the GW2 goes live. People worked together naturally; kudos to Arena Net for design a game that encourages "togetherness" if you would. For example, as big dynamic events were starting, people were calling out events in chat and folks were quick traveling to them. People were reviving each other and to be honest I was afraid reviving others would get "old" and folks would stop doing it; nevertheless, it continues and I'm very excited to still see it.

Shaemoor Keep from the Queensdale side.
I'm a sucker for windmill scenes.
Tyria is huge, massive, immense. I mean "insert-adjective-for-ultra-big-here!" Every time I enter just the starting areas, it still amazes me. By the way, all my screen shots are at the low settings (old laptop) but look how amazing they are. Oh and I found out half way pressing ctrl+shift+H removes the UI. Oh well, live and learn.

I was turned into a "corrupted one" during the ending event and it opened up all the waypoints in the Charr home area. I decided to zip around and see the area. On my second waypoint, I started wandering around and the following words appeared on the screen, "Ascalon Ruins"

Major nostalgia moment, the Ascalon ruins.
I haven't seen Ascalon City since GW1! Now, I was looking at it. Not just Ascalon City post searing but hundreds of years later, teaming with ghosts. On top of that as a Charr, a member of the race that conquered the city. It is one of those amazing moments in a game that hits you and you just stop playing and take it in. I was blown away. I wanted to explore but the higher level undead residents would have made that rather difficult. I will explore it when the game goes live, I just have to.

Interestingly, I have yet to leave the starter areas of any race I have played. Part of this is purposeful, I do not want to spoil too much but the other part is just the sheer amount there is to do and enjoy. Arena Net has a winner here. I look forward to playing it for some time.