Browsing the archives for the Guild Wars category

Guild Wars: Canthan New Year, part 2

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Games, Guild Wars

Followup on some of the other things at the Canthan New Year’s weekend…

The big one for me was Dragon Arena, shown in the screenshots below.

Dragon Arena is sort of like instagib for Guild Wars. Every player is reduced to 100 health maximum, something like 20 energy, and all skillbars are set to 3 skills: Dragon Blast, which is a fiery projectile that deals 100 damage, some other skill (Imperial Majesty?) which is a melee-range attack that deals 80 damage and knocks the targeted player down, and a skill (Trade Winds?) that increases your run speed for a few seconds.

Despite the apparent simplicity of Dragon Arena, it’s actually quite a fun gametype. The irritating thing about typical Guild Wars PvP for me is that there’s such a variety of skills, with 8 skills per teammate and 8 teammates per team, that the combinations are effectively infinite. You’ll never know what you’ll face, and if you happen to be playing a specific build there’s no way to adapt to counter another team’s build mid-game. Dragon Arena puts everyone on equal footing, and reduces the number of things you need to think about in Guild Wars PvP from infinite things, to merely: Movement, enemy positioning, team positioning, and appropriate timing of skill usage.

To me, that in itself is quite enough. It boils down the elements of PvP to the most skill-based elements, like seeing your teammate about to get Dragon Blasted and putting Trade Winds on him so he can dodge out of the way, and so on, rather than emphasizing the memorization and metaknowledge that are important in typical Guild Wars PvP (not to mention the sheer randomness factor of running up against a build that is a gimmick solely designed to shut down whatever build you are running).

Aside from Dragon Arena, there was Rollerbeetle Arena, which I’ve done before but didn’t get a chance to do that weekend — I’ve gotten discouraged from doing it anyway because I regularly get pings of about 300-500 to ArenaNet’s servers, which means constant “rubberbanding” that makes it impossible to reliably navigate a race course when your client and the server keep disagreeing about where you’re located. Not to mention many people suspect the top racers to be cheating (given that all of the top 100 scores seemed to be held by 2 people, this would not surprise me).

Another event taking place during the Canthan New Year was the opening of the Shing Jea Boardwalk, which houses a couple of games — Nine Rings and another ring-based game, both of which are simple chance-based gambling, as well as a “Tag” game of sorts with worms, where players that tag worms earn points to win.

One of the big things for me was that I wanted to get a Celestial Rat minipet — You may have seen one in some of my previous screenshots. Supposedly this item had around a .04 chance to be obtained from Lunar Fortunes. Lunar Fortunes could be traded for using Lunar Tokens, and Lunar Tokens could be gotten by participating in the Dragon Arena, Rollerbeetle Arena, some of the Board games … But the most lucrative way to get the tokens seemed to be doing the festival-related quests.

So I set out to complete all of the festival quests. A couple involved simply taking materials to craftsmen to make fireworks. But my main quests had me travelling to one of the villages on Shing Jea Island to scare off fearsome “Nian” creatures with sparklers and bottle rockets …

Above we have some pictures of the village that was going to be attacked by Nian…

Once I had scared off the Nian I set out to fight the Knights who Say Nian, notorious for attempting to spoil each Canthan New Years’ celebration. Some of the screenshots I took as I searched for the Knights are below…

Eventually the Knights were defeated (it was a tough battle indeed because I was travelling totally alone, with no henchmen or heroes), and the festival went off with a bang. Looking forward to see what else ArenaNet cooks up for these things.

Guild Wars: Canthan New Year, part 1

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Games, Guild Wars

With how busy I’ve been lately, it tends to take something a little bit more special to pull me into playing Guild Wars. Fortunately, it is one of those games which I can put aside for weeks or months and not really feel like I’ve been left behind. So when I heard the Canthan New Year was coming around again this year, I installed my recently-bought copied of Guild Wars: Factions and went to go pay a visit.

Arriving in Cantha on the outskirts of Kaineng.

One of the flame altars inside Kaineng city.

I knew I needed to get to Shing Jea Monastery for the festival, but I didn’t really know where that was. I knew Shing Jea was on an island, and the world map had a couple of islands to the southeast direction, so I headed out south through Kaineng’s slums to get there.

I spent about an hour travelling through the slums. One of the biggest hindrances I had was that I used a Lunar Fortune, an item associated with the event, that can cause a couple of random effects. Most are good, like granting you 100 gold, increasing all your attributes by +1, or giving you festive items like bottle rockets and sparklers. However, I seem to have the worst luck with these fortunes, and got “Possessed” by an evil spirit. This is a condition that causes your screen to turn red and hazy. The worst thing about this condition is that you can’t get rid of it except by leaving the area you’re in. It’s pretty annoying when you’re halfway through an area and then all of a sudden your view becomes hugely obscured so you can barely tell where you’re going. I didn’t want to abandon my progress towards Shing Jea, but the condition made it really hard to play.

After a little bit of travel I found myself at a marketplace with a port. Shown is the statue of Melandru there.

Taking a boat left me at the port on Shing Jea island. Here I am meeting one of the mystical beasts presiding over Shing Jea.

The port of Shing Jea.

As I wandered the island looking for the monastery, I came across this fantastic piece of art.

Have I found the monastery?

Yes!

A headmistress of the monastery.

Another headmistress.

Another character at the monastery. I think she’s a fortune teller.

Festival decor.

The festival at Shing Jea monastery actually consists of a number of different things. Above is the main gathering place, where a number of Canthan chefs await the yearly arrival of a celestial animal to feast on their preparations. Some of their meals require obscure animal parts that players may have to hunt down for them elsewhere. Depending on how pleased the celestial being is with the meal, they may give out varying prizes.

Last year the celestial being was a pig, who gave out miniature pigs. This year the celestial being was a rat, who gave out presents and fireworks.

Some pictures of the event…

At the main gathering area…

Standing by one of the Canthan chefs…

Some joker lets off a string of festival items from Wintersday…

The celestial rat arrives!

Waiting as the rat samples the different meals…

He liked them!

As a bit of a silly end to the celebration, the celestial rat summoned a bunch of rats and went on a running-of-the-rats around the monastery.

Someone commented that it was like the reverse of the Pied Piper, with all the people following the rats around.

Attending players were also given Lion masks provided by the Canthan emperor, although I’m a bit jealous as last year’s masks, Dragon masks, were much better than this years’. The only thing I’m disappointed in is that I didn’t manage to get a celestial rat mini pet.

I’ve got some more nice screenshots from other things, so I guess I am going to break this up into two parts.

“Concept Stolen!”

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Guild Wars

I came across this thread the other day on Guild Wars Guru, which is so ridiculous that I just felt the need to comment on it.

A while ago, in mid 2006, I did a drawing for someone and it featured a sword that many people liked (along with the armor). Fast forward to Nightfall and there is a sword at the end which many are now familiar with, the Forgotten Sword. These two swords look incredibly similar as shown below. This has happened once before with another game. So what’s going on? Are they stealing my ideas, or is it just pure coincidence? I know that I’m not going to put anything on the web I don’t want the possibility of being filched from now on.

GWStolen2

GWStolen1

I am just in awe at the egotism of this character in thinking that, just because he may have produced a drawing of a similar looking object a year before, that the artists of Guild Wars “stole” his concept. Anyone whose seen some of the concept art for Guild Wars, or simply played the game for that matter, realizes that Guild Wars’ artists don’t need to rip off some kid’s art.

Of course, even getting into that point is fruitless — Anyone with any sense realizes that the object in Guild Wars is completely different entity than the sketch this guy made. One is a 3D model, texture, with supporting code that allows it to actually function in the game. The other is graphite on paper.

I’m not a copyright lawyer, of course, but the idea that you can copyright an “idea,” in this case, the idea of a sword that has such and such characteristics, is pretty asinine. Good luck proving that, in thousands of years of history where men have been making swords, no one has made a sword like yours before. Good luck proving that simple derivations of existing swords couldn’t independently come up with the same design without needing to reference your work at all. The arrogance of this thinking just boggles my mind.

I think the thing that bugs me the most is that even a cursory glance can tell that these weapons aren’t identical — The drawing has a straight-edge on the top of the blade and a triangular protrusion on the cutting edge near the hilt. The forgotten weapon lacks the triangular protrusion on the cutting edge, but has an additional flourish on the top of the blade. These aren’t terribly major changes, but when it comes to changes which differentiate one similar weapon from another, that pretty much invalidates the whole claim of “theft” right there.

Screenshots from Guild Wars: Eye of the North

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Games, Guild Wars

I’ve been feeling a little bit burnt out since I finished my last project for work, so I’ve been spending more time than usual sitting around and watching TV. It’s kind of sad when you’re too burnt out to want to play any games. Guild Wars, in particular, is a mixed bag for me, because I want to earn titles in the game — But I also think that the imperative to earn titles is making me less inclined to play. Needing to completely explore each area as I come to it is a big impediment to casual questing unless I’ve already explored the areas I might need to visit.

Guild Wars: Eye of the North is coming up on a release soon (I’ve heard as early as next month, or the month after), and so I need to decide whether I’m going to reconsider my playstyle decisions or not. I can see how my decisions in pursuing titles have caused me to lose out on some casual play, but at the same time, I feel like the lack of social interaction since the introduction of Heroes is a much more significant factor. Hard Mode, for example, was introduced a few months ago and I really enjoy the extra challenge it provides. However, I haven’t been able to complete it thus far because there simply aren’t enough humans in some of the obscure missions, or enough good players in some of the hardest missions, for me to complete it.

Either way, I’m looking forward to GW:EN. It’s a true expansion pack, meaning you need to own one of the previous Guild Wars campaigns. But it’s also not going to have any new classes, something which I am very happy for — Instead of trying to carve out a new niche for two new classes, it means the existing classes will get more and more varied skills. It’s also going to have a full campaign, new heroes, new titles, new games, items, armor, appearances, and all of the things that I care about as a PvE player. I found a couple of screenshots, shown below, which show off some of the new heroes, monsters, and armors. I’m really in love with the Mesmer fur-trimmed outfit and hairstyle in the third picture.

GWENPreview1

GWENPreview2

GWENPreview3

Update: Added the Guild Wars: Eye of the North trailer below. High-resolution downloadable version here (wmv format).

Guild Wars Game Modding

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Games, Guild Wars, Tabletop

Apparently, some clever people managed to figure out how to mod their own Guild Wars datafiles. Although this is somewhat old news, as things like the hoax Terror Shield item demonstrated it could be done in 2005, there seems to be a newfound popularity for editing your own game data files of late. There’s a 30-some-odd page thread on GuildWarsGuru about it, and in roughly half a month several interesting User Interface mods have become available, not to mention innumerable other minor changes (like changing the textures on existing items).

A couple of minor examples:

GWMod1

This image above shows a user modification to the “Critical Hit” effect. A bit cartoonish and over the top, but you’ll always know when you critical.

Below we have a series of images showing alterations to the “wings” effect caused by certain Paragon skills. Normally these wings are gold, but people have modified the texture to display new colorations.

GWMod2

GWMod3

And then there’s the full User Interface reskins, like the one below.

GWMod4

Although it’s just texture replacement, some people have done some interesting things, such as add area-of-effect spell range indicators to the compass (seen above) or add indicators on the health bar for when you drop below major intervals (75%, 50%, 25%, etc).

Of course, for me, the major feature that makes me interested is the ability to reskin the “fog” on unexplored areas of the world map. I haven’t been playing Guild Wars all that much recently, but I would like to get the Cartographer titles eventually, and if I could reskin the fog with a red color (this has already been done) then it should be fairly simple to find unexplored areas of the map to attain 100% map completion.

Then the question becomes, do I want to mess with my Guild Wars files? And do I trust the people doing this sort of thing?

Another thing to mull over.

Healbot Blues

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Guild Wars, Miscellaneous

Healbot2

While browsing over on the Guild Wars Guru forums I came across this little gem of a webcomic called Healbot Blues. I have no idea how well this translates to non-Guild Wars players, but I find it pretty hilarious. The art is really quite nice as well, the guy who draws these definitely has some talent.

Healbot1

This one actually makes me want to try to create a Guild Wars d20 system … Or maybe 2d10, or 3d6, or 4d6… Hmm.

Guild Wars: Computerfall

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Games, Guild Wars, Personal

So, as you might’ve been able to tell, things have been a tad busy over here of late. For the time being, though, I’ve hit a little bit of a lull in work and other obligations.

A lot of really nice updates have hit Guild Wars recently: ArenaNet finally increased storage, and dramatically. Every campaign you own added another “storage tab” with as much storage as you previously had in total. A huge benefit to me, as I’m always overloaded with extra items. Last week we also saw the introduction of “Hard Mode” — It’s pretty self-explanatory, but it promises nice rewards for those who participate. Not to mention various other updates to skills, item drops, and titles that were rolled into effect simultaneously with Hard mode.

Either way, I felt like I might want to spend an hour or two running around Guild Wars, exploring, completing missions, and generally relaxing. So I started up the game, waited for all the updates to download, got my bearings, then went about my business. I started exploring an area … And died. My party wiped out and I went to go try again.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that I generally don’t like to wipe out and start over on an area that I’m exploring. My exploration process is pretty systematic and I like to see every step that I’ve taken in an area plotted out if I can at all help it. So I loaded up on as many henchmen as I could take and ventured out again. Things were looking good for the first fifteen or so minutes … I managed to clear most of the entire map. And then my computer crashed.

I restarted my computer, logged in to Guild Wars, and fortunately only a few minutes had passed — Around Christmas ArenaNet rolled in a feature that allows you to reconnect to an instance you were in if you happen to disconnect. So I logged in to the previous instance I was in and continued clearing the area — Unfortunately, all of my previous map-progress was lost, and this irritated me, but at least I was back where I had been.

I cleared the entire area … And then my computer crashed. I restarted, logged in, continued on. A fluke, right? Won’t happen three times, right? Wrong. Ten minutes later another crash. I tried this about five times and I can’t accept that this many crashes in the space of an hour or so is a fluke.

Each time I managed to get into the game just enough to hit my stride and then all of a sudden the game freezes. My sound card stutters madly. My mouse does nothing, my computer doesn’t respond at all. It’s all very irritating. Since I haven’t changed anything significant on my computer I have a hard time believing it’s anything other than the latest patches to the game. That, too, irritates me. I read the patch list, I get excited for everything I see only to have it denied to me, and worse, denied by the very patch itself.

Oh well. I suppose I’ll wait around until the next patch rolls around and then maybe I’ll be able to play the game again for periods longer than ten minutes.

Guild Wars World Map

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Guild Wars

I ran across this image while browsing Guild Wars forums the other day. It’s pretty neat, so I figured I may as well post it.

Guild Wars World Map

Although the image appears to be fan-made (see the small text in the bottom), I think it gives a pretty good estimate of where the various areas of the separate Guild Wars campaigns are in relation to each other. Wish I had time to make such a detailed world map for my own D&D campaigns…

Guild Wars News

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Games, Guild Wars

I feel like I’m on a bit of a Guild Wars streak lately, but, well, actual news is hard to let pass without comment.

The latest issue of PC Gamer reveals some interesting news: Guild Wars will not be coming out with any further “campaigns” (but they will be coming out with “expansions”). This is pretty good news, in my opinion. Basically it means a couple of things:

1. That ArenaNet is now catering to their existing customer base with further releases rather than attempting to draw in new customers. Less focus on making “headlines” with fancy new attention-grabbing features and more focus on refining existing gameplay for a better experience overall is definitely good in my book.
2. That there won’t be any new professions in any upcoming expansion. Adding two new professions per “campaign” was getting ridiculous; It upset game balance on the PvP side a lot and a plethora of classes erodes the “role” any particular class might play in PvE as well.
3. The expansion will be less expensive than a full-fledged campaign would be. To be frank, paying $50 for an expansion (whether it’s called a campaign or not) is not something I am eager to do. I am much more willing to purchase a $30-40 product than a $50 one, especially given that I rarely have time to play games lately.

The summary of the article, cribbed from Guild Wars Guru:

General Intro Summary:

They are abandoning the Campaign format because it required them to reinvent GW completely for every chapter, and it began to feel ‘bloated’ to them. It’s also increased the tutorials and has created a barrier to new players entering the chapters. The Expansion increases the timeframe but allows them to do what they want to with the game, without worrying about new professions, or pre-lvl20 content. This is a new blueprint for a completely new game.

Eye of the north is a HOLIDAY 2007 RELEASE and is catered to exisiting players. It will required that you own at least one of the previous campaigns and is not considered a standalone. The developers listened to the community that 2 campaigns a year isn’t necessarily what people wanted, that many hadn’t finished a chapter before the new one was released.

A team will be assigned to support the current games with live contet still expected.

Guild Wars Expansion: Eye of the North Summary

Will cost less then other chapters with no new professions. 40 new armor sets, 150 new skills (including 50 pve only), 10 new heroes.

“Extend character development beyond level 20” ~James Phinney~

Underground complex of tunnels through all three ‘continents’ present thus far is revealed.

Three acts:

* Act 1 takes you through 18 underground dungeons to help the dwarves defend against ‘the fiery Destroyer’, eventually taking you to the Asura and Norns (races)
* Act 2 has three story arcs ranging from exploring the Norns, to the Charr homeland, to an Asura resistance of the Destroyer
* Act 3 pits you against the Great Destroyer

Far Shiverpeaks are Norn Lands, Charr homeland is north of ascalon, Asurans are near Maguuma, Tyrian catacombs stretch across the entire continent presumably

GWEN

This is all well and good, but the big news is that ArenaNet is currently in development with Guild Wars 2. Intriguing. I’ll probably post more thoroughly on it later, but for now I’ll just repost the information from Guild Wars Guru that is known from the PC Gamer article.*

Guild Wars 2 Summary

There will be no option to migrate characters from Guild Wars 1 to Guild Wars 2. But you will be able to carry achievements forward through a Hall of Monuments. These are built via quests in Eye of the North and is only available in this chapter.

4 new Playable races:

* Sylvari
* Asuras
* Charr
* Norn

Hundreds of years later, in Tyria… sounds more of a race-reliant struggle.

Radical changes – overhauled environment and character control system, redefined PvP play and retooled NPC companion system.

Predominately open worlds, with instancing as a secondary feature in some areas (not positive on the interpretation). Hundreds of people in the same area, and choices that the population as a whole change the quest structure. PCG gave an example of choosing to rally against a dragon or not. Those that help, gain loot and xp. If the dragon isnt driven away, another ‘quest’ may trigger, leaving more options for the population. Very cool idea IMO.

I’ll just take the level cap stuff directly – “Events will also offer a way for players of different levels to keep interacting in the persistent world – which is crucial, since right now, ArenaNet is planning a very high [100-plus], or possibly no level cap”

Sidekicks simlar to CoH, allowing powers to seep from a high level character to a friendly lower level char.

‘Click to move’ will be abandoned in favor of a more freedom-rich control scheme, including ‘jumping, swimming, and sliding’

Destroyable environments?

Redefined PvP Summary

No real world limitations to servers. You pick a ‘world’, but can switch between the realms.

PvP World vs World combat sounds to be a massive scale capture the flag (AB style?) with no minimum or maximum party size. Big-ass raids that can supposedly take place for weeks on end. At the end, the ‘world’ will be reset, and it will start again it seems. More a casual version of PvP where you can pop in and out to perform various smaller tasks. Developers will reshuffle the teams into well-balanced match-ups every week or so.

GvG will still be present, as a more balanced form where everyone is on a level playing field.

Companions Summary

NPC like heros can join you (like a pet it sounds), and dont count towards your party. Not using this feature lets you be mroe powerful. Every player can bring a single companion on his adventure and won’t take up a slot.

I think I read somewhere in here that it will be mission-based, but I didn’t see it in my quick second-look.

Conclusion Summary

As of now, there will be no monthly fees, and no ‘campaigns’ for Guild Wars 2… mini-expansions, and expansions are hinted at.

Seems like a lot is still up in the air at this point, but it also seems like they’ve been listening to major criticisms of Guild Wars over the past couple of years and are looking to remedy them in the next iteration.

* Side Note: If you’re wondering why I’m not reposting the article itself in full, well, chalk it up to copyright paranoia and creeping tyranny. I don’t subscribe to PC Gamer, but you’d expect any self-respecting game fansite to scan the magazine and have it available within hours of becoming available, no? Someone asked on Guild Wars Guru why scans were not being hosted and ArenaNet’s community relations lady Gaile Gray chimed in:

The contents of the article is copyright. That means it is illegal for fansites to house scans of any part of the article.

We will release shots soon enough, but it would be inappropriate to, essentially, “steal” PC Gamer’s exclusive content by posting it on a fansite forum. Please don’t do that.

Which of course is absurd. I find it kind of sad that the major fansites are complying with this asinine request.