Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When Plastic Spiders Attack!

I'm working a late shift all week, 10:00pm to 6:00am.  Uhg is the best way to describe it.  Nevertheless, I get a moment or two to pop in and see what is going on in Tyria to celebrate Halloween.  Oh boy was I in for a treat!

Have daggers, will carve.
As I started wandering around Shaemoor with Zinjin, he's site seeing right now, I come across a pumpkin.  I can interact with it? Ok.  I hit "F" and Zinjin carves it with exquisite flipping  ninja like style.  Well that was fun and my sons got a kick out of it.  So I start wandering around toward the garrison so I can pick up a skill point or two in that area.  As I'm wading through the river area I spot some ore nodes on the map.  Off  I go to mine when I discover candy corn! 

Too much mining can contribute to tooth decay.
You can mine candy corn and it gives you candy.  If you eat the candy you get a 10% speed boost called sugar rush for about 5 seconds.  After the boon wears off, you get a sugar crash which reduces speed by 50%.  The debuff wears off in about 5 seconds or you can eat more candy to kick in another sugar rush.

Obviously creepy door that must be investigated. 
I get my two skill points, help out the Seraph and then I see an erie looking door in the middle of a field.  Spooky looking door, obviously in the wrong place, sure to have something sinister behind it...LET'S CHECK THIS OUT!  BUT, it vanishes before I can get to it.  Grrr.  So now I'm really curious as to what that door holds and then my keen eye boys spot one in the distance.  I run across the lumber yard, dive in to the water, swim as fast as I can all the time with one of my sons finger hover over the screen shot button.

plastic spider - "Made in Cantha"
I get to the door and open it.  The inside just looks like an odd spacey scene but before I can fully view it something jumps out at me.  A plastic spider attacks me!  Yes you read that correctly, a plastic spider.  Okay, having a large spider attack you is creepy enough, have a large toy spider is just shivers creepy!  For a 40 minute stint of play it was full of surprises, but can Anet offer more?  You bet they can!

Okay, what exactly is thick air?

Well, well, well.  Look who is hanging around the graveyard in Shaemoor, next to the Grenth priest no less.  I spoke with this spook but just got what you see in the screen shot.  The GW2 wiki lists some dialogue I did not see, reference here.  Maybe I need to be a higher level.  Either way I think I need to visit Lion's Arch and do some investigating.  Halloween is going to be fun in Tyria. 

I just want to make one final observation.  I was not driven/guided to any of these things I just wrote about.  No NPC said, "You must go here and talk to person X, blah, blah blah." in an effort to get me to do anything halloween related.  I just let my curiosity take over and it led to some fun moments.  :)

See you in Tyria!

Meet the Krewe, or Warband, or group....

Who am I?
I'm a large anthropomorphic cat with horns and really good hearing!  I'm a naked erudite mole rat with shark like teeth!  I'm an underwear model that always looks perfect no matter what the environment!  Check me out.

When you are in Tyria, look for the following rascals and drop me a wave.

Ralvon Scorcher - Charr Engineer extraordinaire and twice meat festival BBQ champ.

Expiatus - Krytan Guardian who sports a mean beard.  

Zinjin - Asura thief, gun maker and part time architect.

Zonian - Asura warrior, gem broker and raises exotic birds.  Also, the last jotun who cracked a short joke at him is now two legs shorter.

See you in Tyria!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Many Pieces Make a Whole Picture

Do you listen to music by hearing the first 10 seconds and then fast forwarding to the last 10 seconds?

When you have time to sit down and watch your favorite movie do you enjoy the first part of the intro and then fast forward x8 to the credits?

Most likely not.

Now these may seem like strange questions with obvious answers but there are a number of players who play GW2 in this manner. Now, this isn’t wrong but what usually follows along with this play style is players expressing concern or complaining even about the lack of story as they speed through Ascalon. As I talked about this in a previous post and as illustrated by Emmanuel on his video site, players need to approach playing GW2’s like you would listening to a great song or watching your favorite movie.

To illustrate this I’ll share a few experiences my friend and I had last night while playing in Ashford Plains.

We started wandering around Duke Baradin’s Estate, just exploring to see what would happen next. We came across a number of events, we especially loved the harpy attack and the following fried chicken jokes as I ran around with my Charr engineer, flamethrower in hand. As we wentaround  Ashford Forum we came across a downed female charr. We revived her and then she explains that a catapult knocked her out. Reviving her kicks off an event where separatists, humans against the charr/human peace treaty, set up a road block with catapults and armed guards defending it. We engage, fight, win. Go our team!  Also, notice it took action on our part to start the event.  We could have just left her there and nothing would have happened.

At first view this looks isolated and singular. "Oh, we found a NPC which gave us a quest: check, done, yawn." But instead, look at it as a piece of a much larger puzzle. What is a separatist and why are they doing this? Why is this happening here? Part of the answers will come from talking with the scouts who explains those areas of the map. Other parts come from NPCs and events that occur as players move farther away from the more protected parts of Charr territory – the area closest to the Black Citadel. As players delve more into the world ANet starts revealing stories one piece at a time as players experience them. For example, after the road block, we talked to the scout. She points out, among other things, a small shipyard area that is having problems with separatists. Hmmmm.

We all live in a drab metallic submarine...
A submarine! These charr are building a full-on steampunked SUBMARINE! Okay, the ship ward is quite awesome already. We show up to a group of separatists attacking the sub trying to sabotage it. I don’t know what happens if you prevent it because we didn’t. Boom! Big hole in the side (which was cool since we could see the gears on the inside whirling around).  Now the sub needs to be fixed so off we go scrounging for parts littered across the lake bed. We turn in the parts and after enough the sub engineer dives down to fix it. Guess who shows up? Separatists and they are not happy we are trying to undue their explosive handy work. We defend the repair worker and drive back the separatists, who flee to an alcove on the other side of the lake and a charr follows them. I go over a talk to her and she tells me the separatist camp is in that area. I see one NPC setting traps or something.

Model # WHL-34
What happens next? I don't know. We both had to get to sleep so we stopped playing but I want to know what happens in that camp. Will there be more information about the separatists?  Why do they hate the treaty? Is Minister Caudecus behind them?  I'm pretty sure I will have to play through the whole area, I only have a few pieces of the story right now but I look forward to discovering the whole picture.

We just chillin

Hopefully I was able to illustrate how GW2 is more about showing players the story than just letting them read it in a log of text.  This was just a local story; imagine the ones using the whole world as its setting.  My friends and I have greatly enjoyed just following dynamic events just to see where they go and how they connect to other aspects of the world.  Take a curious moment and I think you'll enjoy it also.

See you in Tyria!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Jasmin Sparkles or My boys nearly barfed.

So one of my daughters wanted to make a character on GW2.  She'd made one on GW1, a mesmer BTW, and I thought it would be pretty fun.  We started with the races. My daughter's comments are in italics.

"How about the Charr?"
"No, they are big hairy cats."
"You don't like cats?"
"Not big hairy ones."
"Norn?" "Asura?"
"They look funny. They have no hair."
"What about the humans?" "The regular looking people"
"Maybe...who's that?"
"Those guys on the end"
"The plant people?!"
"YEAH them!"  "Can I make one of them?" 

Now for a profession, well sword people are yuck, necros are too spooky, why would a plant play with fire and she liked the purple mesmer outfit (my daughter loves purple) but the Ranger won out because she could get a pet!  A big blue bird pet named Daisy. 

So ladies and gentlemen, without further Adieu I present Jasmin Sparkles -

We played around in the starting area, bought her a pretty bow, a Krytan bow.  (Tangent here. Man the Kryta versions of the low level weapons are amazingly detailed!  The Asuran are techno looking, Charr are steampunked but the Krytan versions are just fantastic.)

Now her older brothers wanted to know what all the hubbabaloo was about so they came over to my computer to see.  We showed them my daughters character and they, in eloquent boy fashion said, "BLEEECCHH!!!"  "That's soooo girlie!"  To which we replied, "Girlie and she can take down bad guys at 500 yards!"

It was so classic and my daughter is sooo very awesome.

See you in Tyria!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

NOT Over and Out

When I Need to Take My Own Advice.

I had written that I was intent on letting this blog go.  It had become just one more thing to juggle and I had enough already.  It seemed for the past month I felt exactly like Bilbo's quote from the first Lord of the Rings movie, "Spread to thin, like not enough butter on too much bread."  But a few days ago two things happened, maybe three, that have me rethinking how I'm handling things. 

First, my wife, the greatest woman in the world by the way, told me I need to quit taking everything TOO seriously.  In the midst of a fussing 18 month old, a diaper change and some kids making weird noises I looked up at my wife and she was making the weirdest, contorted face possible and said in a "edjamacated" accent, "Don't yu wanna kiss me?"  I busted out laughing!  It was after that she informed me of my need to lighten up. 

Second, I read Siadina's post about Aly and I halting our blogging activities.  Aly's comments in particular struck a cord with me.  She described us a "positive bloggers".  We liked keeping things upbeat and really did not like to hit the critical cynical note every time we blogged.  Her comments got me thinking.  I'd never seen this blog in that light before.  I think, unfortunately I started seeing this blog as a drag because I was unconsciously attempting to be purposefully deep, or critical, or write something on par with Zubon, Syl or Melmoth

Folks, I just did a big post advising players to not take GW2 so seriously.  To just enjoy where it takes you.  I'm afraid I've been rather hypocritical.  I'm Zonian.  A guy who just wants to post what moves him at the time whether it be a funny picture or a semi-therapeutic blog entry /wink/.  I want the posts to be light-hearted and enjoyable.  I want folks to see how GW2 is something really different and will really grow as such over time.

So my apologies and I hope I don't seem wishy-washy.  I think now I'm refocused.  I'm not Over and Out, I'm over here in Tyria.  I will continue to drop a post every now and then as I find something amazing.


OH!  The third thing was I made a work bench in about an hour and a half.  It really cleaned up the garage which has been full since the minor basement flood last spring.  I love woodworking and love it when I jump into a project and it helped realize how much I enjoy it and miss doing it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

It's not the destination, its the journey.

Being a military guy I’ve travelled cross country quite a number of times. It could be duty related, moving to a new base or a vacation. I’ve driven from North Dakota/Canada to Alabama and back; from California to Mississippi; from middle USA Nebraska to Virginia and everywhere in between. If I add travel by flying it would look like spaghetti all over the map. The trips usual fall into two categories – time restrained or leisurely. Time restrained means I have to be somewhere by a certain day or time. They are usually stressful, rush-rush, eat in the car, sleep when needed and the main goal is – arrive quickly. I do not enjoy those trips. On the other hand, leisurely travel allows me to enjoy the varied terrain, the cities, the monuments, the weather, everything. The destination is important but not the full experience, why, even the travel itself is part of one long destination. I prefer the later form of travel.
Have you ever seen the St Louis Arch? It’s pretty amazing. A polished metal arch and if you see it a sunrise or sunset it shines oranges and reds. When I’ve travel I’m usually on I-70 or on the I-55/I-64 (Poplar St Bridge) depending on which way I’m going. It wasn’t until my kids were older and I pointed it out to them that I noticed how amazing it is. I’ve passed by it numerous times but still missed it. Another great hidden gem is the Mississippi Gulf Coast. You can fly right by it on I-10 but you’ll miss out on some great food and vistas. From BBQ to Creole to seafood, I don’t know why but the food is stellar. Of special mention is “The Bamboo” Chinese restaurant in D’Iberville, Mississippi. It has the best Chinese food…ever. If you take, I-110 to Hwy 90 you can cruise along the coast and enjoy the antebellum houses that survived Katrina, the wood sculptures in the center run of the highway, the beach and all its activity. I can go on and on about different locations since there are so many, but you get my drift.
“Hey this is a GW2 site, why the travel story?” Funny you should ask. There has been a lot of chatter regarding GW2 “endgame” and questing. It ranges from “it totally lacks traditional endgame e.g. raiding” to the quest hearts have no story/continuity. These observations surprised me at first. No end game, really? Maybe it’s because many people are conditioned to think max level is the end or the supposed real beginning of the game. For me, the whole game is design as one big end game. You can reach level 80 and still have only seen a fraction of the explorable world. As such, a player can go to an unvisited area, auto down level and experience all the vistas, quests, jumping puzzles, stories and world events it has to offer. In addition, they can acquire more skill points, karma and gold. To get to the end, if we want to use that term, is going to take a while.
In regards to quests and their stories, I have enjoyed the many multiple parts or inter-connections. After many events, players just need to wait or explore a little and a new event soon kicks off related to what they just did. Take the pumping station in Shaemoor, Queensdale. In this event, players can participate in one of two main events with multiple pieces. The first has bandits trying to poison the water. If players prevent the poisoning, they chase the bandits off, if not, a few things happen. Some villagers in the main part of town, will have a green poison skull icon above their head. If you talk to them they will complain about the water and direct you to the pumping station. In addition, many of the farms will have green globs, caused by the poison, making a mess of things. Players have to kill the blobs and deliver the goo to a fellow located near the pump station. After he has enough he can neutralize the poison. Also, if player’s character comes from the poor side of town, their personal story will hook into this particular event.
 The other main event has bandits trying to blow up the water pipes. In the first part, players have to stop bandits from blowing up all three water mains. If successful, the bandits run away. If they blow up one or more of the pipes a new event starts wherein the pipe repair personnel must be protected as they rebuild the pipes. If players fail, bandits infest the pipes and players have to revive the workers and push the bandits back, essentially a recapture. This event also has a relation to the middle class personal story.
I wonder how many players speed through any one of the many parts I just outlined.  If so, they don't even realize they have only seen a part of the event, a part of the story.  I imagine they are thinking it was fun but not too involving.  Maybe it's because much of GW2's stories are played out with player participating and watching it unfold.  Sometimes they need to something to move it forward, other times it just moves along.  It's like speeding past the St Louis Arch, I got a glimpse but did I really see it?    
GW2 players, a word of advice, take your leisure and enjoy the journey through Tyria.
I found a great video by Emmanuel showing in game footage examples of how dynamic events' stories unfold and how slowing down can help players enjoy them more.  It is well done and worth the view.  His blog entry with the video can be found here.