Browsing the archives for the Guild Wars category

Elonian Explorations, Istani Interludes, Part 2

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Games, Guild Wars

As I think I established in my previous post, the island of Istan in Nightfall is pretty darn big. As such, I’m not going to bother posting all the screenshots I have of each area, just some of the better ones. One good thing about Nightfall that I’ve been noticing is that edge-running, the time-honored tactic of Cartographers and aspiring-Cartographers everywhere, seems to be less necessary. Basically this means I’m only going to provide the most gorgeous scenes from my travels, not every random cranny that might reveal a section of the map.

Stepping outside of Kamadan onto the Plains of Jarin, to be met with the impressive facade of the Sunspear great hall.

Outside the first city, with some nice greenery and so on.

Inside Fahranur, the first city…

In the heart of the city lurks a great horror that has been petrified…

Screenshots from the Mehtani Keys, your next vacation spot…

Screenshots from Zehlon Reach. I really love the green tones in this area, very lush and damp looking.

Last but not least, Lahtenda Bog, showing off some of the nice water reflection effects in the first shot and the Sunspear mausoleum in the second.

Elonian Explorations: Istani Interludes, Part 1

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Games, Guild Wars

It’s been awhile since I’ve done any Guild Wars mapping-slash-screenshots. Aside from just generally being really busy since about December, I’ve been trying to take my time going through Guild Wars: Nightfall. I’ve also been being pretty systematic in how I approach the game, an approach that is probably better for my completionist impulses but less conducive to blogging.

One of the frustrations of map exploration in the Prophecies campaign is simply that I’ve already explored most of the areas. I enjoy going through the areas and seeing all the beautiful surprises, but I don’t really like forcing myself to return, to wade through tons of enemies and attempt (and attempt is key, because it can quickly become difficult to progress if your build is geared towards running around exploring instead of fighting) to explore every nook and cranny. For the Nightfall (Elonian) campaign I decided that I was going to make every attempt to thoroughly explore each area as I entered it, and to have every area completely explored before entering a new one.

This isn’t always possible due to missions that may push you into a new area but block off access routes or give you a time limit or other potential restriction, but to the extent that it is possible I wanted to follow this guideline.

This first post deals with my progress through the so-called “Starter Island” of Nightfall. I’m going to be posting my map completion screenshots first for Guild Wars people who might be interested, and will follow up sometime later with the eyecandy and a bit of commentary.


Above: The Plains of Jarin, showing map completion percentage (includes all previous starter island areas, except the initial area inaccessible to characters from other continents)


Above: The Cliffs of Dohjok (map completion percentage also includes outposts accessible via the Plains of Jarin)


Above: Explorable area, Fahranur, the First City (percentage also includes Blacktide Den)


Above: Issnur Isles (includes Beknur Harbor)


Above: Mehtani Keys (includes Kodlonu Hamlet)


Above: Zehlon Reach (includes Jokanur Diggings)


Above: Lahtenda Bog

So my sum total for all of the areas of Istan was 21.5%.

After I had completed all of the quests and such available for me in Istan, I moved on to the final quest, the attack on Varesh’s forces with the rest of the Sunspears.

After fully exploring Varesh’s stronghold and Yohlon Haven I ended up with 23% total. That’s some starter island.

If I find myself inspired I may fiddle with some numbers and figure out the exact percentages for each explorable area.

Sexy Sprites

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Games, Guild Wars, Visual

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Via Zen of Design I came across this interesting little site: SexySprite.

This is basically a “Hot or Not?” site for characters in videogames. What’s kind of amusing to me is that pretty much all of the top-rated characters are from Guild Wars — Score one for ArenaNet’s consistently strong visual design, I suppose. Only Lineage 2 and Second Life even break into the top 50, albeit with the typical “nearly naked chick with big boobs” strategy.

Just browsing random images, it seems like Second Life people are far overrepresented on this page. About half of all the images seem to be from Second Life. I’m actually kind of surprised that the art is as good as it is in Second Life, even if it isn’t that great. There are even a few that aren’t geared towards the lowest common denominators of sexuality and might actually be considered attractive. Second Life character portraits also have by far the largest amount of touchup work done on them. Characters from virtually every other game are simply screenshots or assemblages of screenshots using an emote for posing variety. Second Life characters will have artificial backdrops, color splashes, bloom effects, image smoothing and all kinds of other editing done to them.

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I guess I’m feeling a bit of an academic twist coming on. So much is made of the malleability of appearance or perception of appearance in online games, I think it says something (particularly with regard to Second Life) that these are the appearances people willingly choose for themselves when they want to present themselves publicly. I’d say “So much for psycholinguistic conspiracy theories about the constructedness of beauty” and whatnot, but then I realized that it’s futile to even try and make an argument when it’s just going to be twisted or subverted anyway.

Guild Wars Chinese New Years

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Games, Guild Wars

As usual, pretty busy trying to take care of everything I need to do. Last night I managed to set aside a few hours to log in to Guild Wars. I had intended to continue along in Elona, where I’ve been spending pretty much all my time in Guild Wars lately (hence no mapping updates, though eventually I’ll get back to that), but I was pretty surprised when I logged into Kamadan and saw the whole place redecorated in Chinese/Canthan lanterns.

A couple of new NPCs showed up that could take me to a new area …

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This is a new area where instead of controlling your normal character you control a beetle. You can participate in races with your beetle to win prizes. Pretty cool stuff.

Hopefully I’ll have a chance to write something more substantial a bit later, just wanted to make a little post about this thing.

People Don’t Know What They Want

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Games, Guild Wars, Unreal Tournament

It’s an inevitable fact of life when it comes to videogames and particularly videogame forums — People don’t know what they want. Or, rather, people know what they want in the short term, but don’t have a clear enough mental picture of what they do like and want to foresee the consequences of their current desires in the long term.

I bring up the subject mostly in relation to the latest batch of testing that’s been going on in Guild Wars: Nightfall this past weekend (January 19th – 21st), but it’s pretty applicable to other games and ultimately any situation where direct feedback arises. For anyone who’s interested and familiar with Guild Wars, the game updates can be seen over here — However, the exact specifics aren’t all that interesting and probably seem like a mishmash of numbers and words for someone who doesn’t play Guild Wars at a high level.

Now to elaborate a bit on this situation here — Guild Wars, at least in the Player vs. Player sense, has a couple of different layers to it. The first and most obvious is “Balance” — A nebulous and hard-to-pin-down concept if there ever was one. The other major factor in Player vs. Player play is referred to as “Metagame.” The metagame is essentially a loose collection of ideas about the game which players have which influence play choices. For example, if a highly ranked Guild runs a certain specific “build” it’s highly likely that lesser players will copy the build. If it’s effective and successful for lesser skilled players it will probably become pretty popular. At that point the build will probably become stagnant — Dogmatic and uncreative players will require everyone in their party to follow this build to the letter. This eventually is broken when alternative, but related builds are introduced. The other side of this metagame development are people that refuse to run an effective build because it’s popular, or people who plan their builds specifically around countering another build.

In any case, since the release of Guild Wars there have been a huge number of complaints about this strategy or that. Some of them are legitimate, others are just posts by people who feel entitled to win and get upset when they don’t. And, naturally, the introduction of two new classes and something like 200 new skills necessarily disrupts the known Metagame. So this weekend ArenaNet rolled out a huge number of changes [temporarily] to try out some of the balance effects. And while the large majority of the changes were positive, there’s a lot of major downtweaks to important skills. I don’t want to really get into the specifics here, particularly because I felt like I haven’t had my playstyle hit by any of the major changes, but observing the reactions of other players is always kind of surreal.

Across the major Guild Wars fansites, people cry out for continued “nerfings” of this or that skill in order to rectify their perceived balance issues. This reminds me far too much of what happened to the Unreal franchise with UT2003. The elite level players decided virtually every weapon was too strong, so virtually every weapon in the UT2003/4 takes ages to kill anyone. In other words, it’s boring. The only real exception is the Shock Rifle, and damned if people aren’t pushing for the Shock Rifle to be downtweaked into oblivion for UT2007.

Guild Wars already has less dynamic, attrition-based play than I would like. Downtweak some of the major damage-spiking powers too much and the entire balance of the game between pressure and spiking can be thrown off. And while everyone could congratulate themselves on bringing balance to the game, chances are that with too much meddling we’ll end up with a game that’s just so boring to play that no one will — I’ll take unbalanced over that any day.

Save the Reindeer!

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Guild Wars

I haven’t been posting much the last couple days, what with Christmas Eve and Christmas in there and all that entails. I realized in the wind-down after Christmas day that December’s coming to a close — That means Guild Wars’ Wintersday event is going to wrap up soon too, and since I’ve had a whole maybe five hours enjoying the thing, I’ve been trying to dedicate some more time to finish the Wintersday quests and throwing snowballs around.

Here’s a few screenshots from what I have accomplished…

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Blasted Grentches, how could they be so cruel as to try and make hats out of these adorable guys?

Wintersday is Here!

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Games, Guild Wars, RPGs

Well, I managed to survive last week with most of my sanity intact. I just logged in to Guild Wars to blow off a little steam and what do I see?

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Wintersday! Kamadan is really pretty in the snow… Kind of amazing, actually, considering how desert-like the rest of Elona is. Heh. Now I’m off to play, may update once I’ve done some of the Wintersday quests and games.

ArenaNet Owns Me

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Art, Games, Guild Wars

So ArenaNet announces the festivities for the Holiday Season 2006:

Even before the grand finale, wherein Dwayna and Grenth promise the crowds gifts to gain their favor, Wintersday will provide many opportunities for wintry fun and presents. Here’s what you can expect:

* The return of two well-known Wintersday quests, which give you the chance to side with Grenth and his grentchies or Dwayna and her snowmen even before their final showdown. Unsure of which deity to support? Try both quests to pick your favorite!
* New for this Wintersday season are two all new quest chains revolving around the two competing holiday gods. Polar bears, reindeer, and devious presents – Oh my!
* Venture into the Underworld for a series of repeatable snowball fights against either the forces of Grenth or the forces of Dwayna. Take control of piles of presents to ensure your side’s victory in this frosty fray.
* For another dose of snowball mayhem, try out the PvP snowball fight. Random forces will unite within an arena to fight for either Grenth or Dwayna. The first team to gather five presents for its patron deity will win the day.
* And, if you believe the old adage that it is better to give than to receive, try your hand at the city event game in Lion’s Arch, Droknar’s Forge, Kamadan, and Ascalon City during the festivities. Deliver presents to the children before the grentchies destroy Wintersday. And you never know, the little urchins might just reward you with something special for your generosity.

* Winter Gift: What surprise will you find inside? “Unwrap” it to find out.
* Snowman Summoner: Need an instant snowman? This gift is for you.
* Eggnog: The holiday season’s staple drink.
* Spiked Eggnog: A more potent glass of nog for the hale and hearty. Please imbibe responsibly—don’t drink and quest.
* Green Candy Cane: The return of the adventurer’s favorite candy treat.
* Rainbow Candy Cane: A different flavor of candy cane that should also make those long days of questing much more enjoyable.
* Yuletide Tonic: Drink this tonic if you want to be one of Dwayna’s little helpers during the festivities.
* Frozen Globs of Ectoplasm: You’ll need some of this collectible item when you get low on Yuletide Tonic.
* Candy Cane Shards: Collect these colorful fragments by questing and competing. The outcome of Wintersday hangs in the balance, and your contribution of Candy Cane Shards may make all the difference. Besides, you never know what somebody might trade for these once the festivities come to a close. Tip: Hold onto those shards until the Wintersday finale and use them for good (or mischievous) intent!
* Fruitcake: A tasty holiday staple that is sure to put a little spring in your step.
* Special Rewards: In the tradition of the season, you’ll receive special headgear during the Wintersday finale. And even better, you’ll get a new means of storing it, as well.

ArenaNet also announces two really nice presents for players of Guild Wars available when the holiday festivities start:

Party Search — A brand new Party Search panel will be added to Guild Wars this December, which will allow players to more easily form groups. Casual and hard-core gamers alike will benefit from this new system, as it will make it easier for players to form parties for some of the tougher quests and missions in the game, find the last cog needed for a fearsome group that can tear through the PvP arenas, or just connect with old friends online to go explore the diverse Guild Wars world.

Reconnect After Disconnect — One of the most player-requested features comes to Guild Wars! If a player gets dropped from the game due to a connection problem, and that player can reconnect within ten minutes, the player’s character will be relocated to the spot of disconnection. If the character was performing an action, such as casting a spell or auto-attacking a target, that character will complete the action as if still connected. If a player is in a group when disconnected, the other members of the party will be notified about the player’s connection problems.

Awesome. A better grouping mechanic, and a way to reconnect to an instance after being disconnected are just about the most popular requests for the game in general. Add on the fact that we’re getting additional storage for holiday items and this will be a very merry Wintersday indeed. I’m crossing my fingers that next year I’ll find additional general storage, a stylist NPC, and an auction house — If that happens my Guild Wars life will be complete.

I also ran across this gem of a thread. Apparently one of the special editions of Guild Wars: Nightfall had a concept art book that contained beautiful concept art, which is now being reposted here online to this thread. Some samples:

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Everything in that thread is stunning. An absolute treasure trove. Happy Wintersday, ANet!

Nightfall Arrives

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Games, Guild Wars

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Finally, after some three-odd three weeks of waiting, Nightfall has arrived. I took about fifteen minutes to take my main character from the continent of Tyria to Elona.

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Of course, with the holidays upon us, things are too busy to waste time playing a game. Damnit.