Category Archives: guild wars 2

You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will

The transient, here-today and, if I may say so, gone-tomorrow nature of betas blunts the achiever streak that’s a major motivator for me in MMOGs, so I didn’t do an awful lot of adventuring in the Guild Wars 2 beta. The vague impression I formed was pleasurably chaotic, partly by design, partly a result of waves of brand new players squinting in the gleam of new-game shine and shouting “HOW I MINE FOR FISH?” Stumbling out of the introductory quests into the starter zones you talk to a scout, who basically opens your map up, points out a bunch o’ stuff going on, then slaps you on the back and says “off you go!” Following the directions of punctuation-emblazoned questgivers in a more structured MMOG can be like an assault course, where an instructor at each stage orders you to climb the scramble net, kill ten boars, step through tires or whatever, refusing to allow you to progress to the next obstacle until you’ve done it properly. In comparison Guild Wars 2 is an adventure playground where there’s a game of tag going on around the monkey bars, an impromptu round of “capture the fort” centred around a climbing frame, then a heavily distorted version of Greensleeves starts playing as an ice-cream van turns up and everyone runs after it for a 99 (except the van’s driven by an otter, who’s taking it to a carpet factory, and… hang on, this analogy has crashed, ABORT! ABORT!)

I did spend quite a lot of time on the character creation screens, though, wallowing in the luxury of ample time to adjust nose width and brow depth without the nagging feeling you get once a game goes live that you’re in a race with an Evil Society of Name Thieves to get to the “Enter character name:” box, that every second spent considering the precise tint of hair colour is a step closer to the accursed defeat of “Sorry, that name is not available”. Or maybe that’s just me. Character customisation is reasonable; not right up there with APB, but a decent array of options, and ArenaNet at least remembered to do some work on the rest of the game. The Charr seem quite interesting, they get good horn sliders and some fun fur patterns, but I’ve never really got into anthropomorphic characters so spent less time with them than the Humans or Norns.

Syl posted about the generically attrative faces of GW2, and Humans suffer particularly badly. A lot of the faces, especially female faces, go past photoshopped-model-in-glossy-magazine into slightly freakier animated-porcelain-doll territory, they just didn’t look right to me. GW2 is also slightly unusual in that, at least for this beta build, facial details such as scars, wrinkles and make-up are part of a head-package, not elements that can be added or tailored individually; I’m not sure if that’s something they’re planning on changing, but I found it quite tricky to get a Human head I was really happy with. Norns were much better, plenty of character in most of the male faces and a few female options from outside a glossy teen drama, plus the ability to add tattoos to mix things up a bit. Granted the high level female outfits shown during creation were heavy on the cleavage and midriff, and if there was any equivalence then male Norn casters would excel at smuggling budgies, but I think that’s been beaten that to death recently. With a high-heeled boot.

In summary, then: Guild Wars 2 has a character creator, and after that you run around a bit. Join me here at KiaSA after the next beta weekend when I hope to be able to shed some light on the rumours that you can “press buttons” to “use skills”.

A wedding? I love weddings! Drinks all around!

As usual I’ve spent a large part of my time noodling around in the character creator during Guild Wars 2’s current beta event. I think I’ve got my characters planned, a Norn Guardian and a Charr Warrior, with the Guardian being my main. Of course m’colleague will snort merrily at this and tell you that I will, therefore, be playing a Sylvari Thief come release. I am certainly well enough aware of my altitus to not be able to rule out such a situation occurring.

The one saving grace for my Norn is that I’ve managed to create my own denizen of Rivain (because nothing helps immersion in a fantasy RPG like a genre mash-up), which will be hard to give up. This is helped somewhat by the default town clothes for the female Norn complementing the desired guise so terribly well. I present the following exhibits as evidence:

Brawling, booze and infeasible cleavage – welcome to Norn Town.

I’ve played through some of the early levels to get a handle on the various classes, and I’ve raised a few bug reports, so I have to say that I feel my time in the beta was both worthwhile and enjoyable. The game clearly has some work to be done, but then for all we know we may not see a release for six months or more. I think the important thing to consider is whether the lessons of beta have been learnt, the outcome of which will become clear when the next beta takes place. Regardless, I’ve seen enough –even in its current condition– to know that I will be playing the game for some time, and that it will probably become my new World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online – games which have both served me well for five or more years of play, on and off.

I can’t really report much on the game content as such, because I didn’t advance terribly far with any one character; I have no intention of playing through it all again come release – O, that way burnout lies. I’d rather save the content for when I can savour it, knowing that any progression my character makes will actually count for something.

The beta simply hasn’t changed my opinion for better or worse – I think that Guild Wars 2 will be a great game, that I will get a lot out of it, and that ArenaNet will have a very solid foundation on which to continue building their Guild Wars franchise. Is it going to change the world? No. Is it going to be a very strong player in the MMO market and influence those theme park MMOs which follow it? Yes, I do believe so.

I still regret not having involved myself in the original Guild Wars culture, and I don’t intend to make the same mistake a second time. The thing with Guild Wars is that it’s more than just a game – it is a community. Much like I find the game-play of EVE not to be for me, I can still admire the community. And I do. The devoted passion of EVE’s players is something which I also recognise in the Guild Wars community, as well as in the team at ArenaNet, and I feel that it is this passion which is intrinsic to the best of MMO experiences.

MMOs are more than just the games we play, they are the communities which form around the games, and this is what should make them different and special. Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost this depth of community. Perhaps the player-base has been spread too thinly with the wealth of MMO choice in recent years; perhaps developers have failed to instill, or even enable, an appropriate sense of community within their player-base; perhaps players have been spoilt by the bigger MMOs, and a sense of selfish entitlement precludes a solid community forming. Certainly the latter point is my main concern for Guild Wars 2 at the moment, the sense of entitlement and complaint over the issues found in the current beta have been… excessive, to my mind. Wanting to have your issues resolved is entirely understandable, but the foot-stamping, nappy-flinging, red-faced wailing that occurs amongst a certain set of players every time they don’t get an absolutely immaculate MMO experience, or find themselves hindered by an issue for any longer than a nanosecond, casts the MMO community as a whole in a terribly bad light. It is healthy to lust for perfection, but only deranged fanaticism could demand it unconditionally.

So, Guild Wars 2: so far as I can tell it’s a great game, one which will not shake the foundations of the genre, but will almost certainly strengthen them; we’ll just have to wait and see if it develops the solid community it deserves to go along with that.

KiaSA Top Tips: Guild Wars 2

A list of (hopefully) useful tips and tricks we’ve found while rummaging around in the Guild Wars 2 beta. We’ve only been playing for a short while so far, and not played before, so it’ll be an equally short list of basic tips to start off with, but we’ll add to it as and when we stumble upon tidbits that may be QI to others. Do feel free to add your own tips in the comments and we’ll pop them in the main list with an appropriate attribution.

  • Whether you like it or not – remember it’s still a Beta (you can sing this to the tune of Remember You’re A Womble if it’ll help you at moments of high stress.)

  • Those of you with ATI/AMD graphics cards may find that upon entering the game world you’re faced with a UI and an otherwise black screen. Press Esc, go into the graphics options and disable Depth of Field, which fixed this in my instance. Apparently the game is optimised for NVidia cards only at the moment, so expect slightly more frinky graphical glitches during the beta if you’re part of The Way It’s Also Possible To Be Played set.

  • The music on the login page is indeed on the loud side – although if any game music were going to have to be loud, I’d take the Guild Wars soundtrack any day. There is a cog icon in the top left corner of the login screen which will open the options page and allow you to reduce the audio levels.

  • When you’re on the character selection screen look to the top left and you’ll see a Contacts icon next to the Options icon. You can check which of your friends is online before you login, and then choose which of your characters to play based on who’s on what and where.

  • Helmets and shoulder-pads can be turned off in the Hero sheet (Press H) by right-clicking the appropriate piece of armour. Useful if those Mesmer masks freak you out as much as they do me.

  • Speaking of outfits: the small icons at the top centre of the Hero sheet above your character model allow you to select your town outfit which, for my norn warrior at least, was a rather fetching pirate get-up that matched her bandana rather nicely.

  • Autoloot can be enabled through the options menu (Press Esc) General Options -> Interactions. It does, however, still show you the icons of what you looted in the bottom right of the screen, and you can mouse-over each one for a description of the item. After a short period of time these icons fade out. Don’t panic! Autoloot does not steal the armour from other PCs: they all look that naked with their armour on.

  • Speak to any scouts you see (they have a spyglass icon above their head), they will often give you information about the area, and point out new events and locations on your map. They are not recruiting for X-Factor or Next Top Model, though.

  • You may need to bind Dodge to a key – it was unbound for me, although I may have used the default key for something else. Either way, make sure it’s bound, and use it whenever you can, it will help to keep you alive as much as ‘6’ (the heal key) will.

  • If you’re taking a screenshot, perhaps for sending to ArenaNet, then consider binding a key to Screenshots: High-Res in the options (Press Esc) Control Options.

  • You can merge your inventory into one large bag by unchecking the Bags checkbox at the top on the inventory screen (Press I). You can keep your inventory nice and neat by pressing the Compact icon next to the Bags checkbox. This will move all items up to the top of the inventory, filling in any empty spaces you may have from selling or equipping items – it’s a nice way to keep all the new loot going in at the bottom of your inventory so it’s easy to find.

  • Don’t just chain-run quests, take time to smell the roses. Unless you’re doing the Smell the Roses quest, obviously.


Things are distinct not in their essence but in their appearance.

April 10th is just around the corner, and I’ve been dabbling in Guild Wars: The Original Series.

During my initial foray I was very pleased to see that ArenaNet can indeed make splendid-looking female armour without it needing to include a mini-skirt, bra, nipple tassels, thong, fishnets, Lycra leotard or nothing but a small strategically placed fig leaf.

Of course, if you want it, you have to buy it from the Guild Wars store.

I’ve also found a new lease of life in Skyrim, with various mods which improve character appearance, as well as the addition of cloaks and other cosmetic niceties, providing a new reason to go adventuring in Tamriel’s wintry province.

All of which is free, and makes me feel somewhat guilty, because I’m happy to give a little extra to ArenaNet seeing as their game and its series of expansions seems worth more than the box prices alone. With all the good will shown towards recent gaming Kickstarter projects, I wonder if players would also pay for mods to their favourite games, especially since services such as Steamworks support it.

Regardless, I’m cosmetically content, and perfectly happy pottering around in DDO, Guild Wars and Skyrim for the time being. In addition, I’m somewhat more hopeful now of being able to create a sensibly attired character in Guild Wars 2 – always nice for someone who enjoys playing female characters for more than the beholding of butt, and who doesn’t want to get hit around the head with a frying pan when their wife witnesses the buxom burlesque dancer in a chainmail thong with which the game has lumbered them.

In pre-preparation for April 10th.

So April 10th is the big day we’ve all been waiting for. Yes indeed, on April 10th fans of KiaSA will finally be able to pre-purchase their pre-order for the post-purchase pre-order purchase of KiaSA: The MMO. Be aware that this pre-purchase of the post-purchase pre-order only gives you access to the beta test for the post-purchase pre-test pre-preview phase of the pre-post-purchase-order part of the KiaSA game. To be able to play KiaSA: The MMO upon release, you will need to return to the retailer from where you pre-purchased the post-order post-preview order for the pre-purchase early access post-beta pre-game access and present a valid proof of purchase, whereupon the retailer will give you a code which fully unlocks the pre-post-pending-past-participle-order for the early post-headstart pre-access for KiaSA: The MMO.

This pre-purchase of the post-purchase pre-order includes the following exclusive benefits:

  • access to the beta test for the post-purchase pre-test pre-preview phase of the pre-post-purchase-order part of the KiaSA game
  • access to the month of June from May 17th
  • an exclusive in-game cosmetic “I pre-purchased the post-purchase pre-order and all I got was this lousy tabard” tabard
  • an exclusive out-of-game make your own cosmetic tabard kit [*]
  • Exclusive forum post template, “You should have seen [class/item/ability] back in post-purchase pre-test pre-preview, that was really [overpowered/underpowered/wombling-free-powered]
  • an exclusive lifesize replica of YOU! [**]
  • KiaSA: The MMO – Pre-purchaser’s In-Game Store, where you can pre-purchase items for your character before they’re available for pre-order in the standard in-game store.

[*] kit consists of a felt tip pen and instructions on cutting a hole in the middle of a sheet then writing “I pre-purchased the post-purchase pre-order and all I got was this lousy tabard” with said felt tip.
[**] to access exclusive replica, look in a mirror.

Whatever you do, please make absolutely sure that you DO NOT enter the code for your pre-order post-purchase purchase before you’ve entered the pre-code for your pre-test post-access purchase order, which is the first four digits of the pre-purchase post-code in reverse order; failure to follow these instructions will result in your account being permanently locked and someone from the KiaSA team coming around to your house and pre-kicking your cat.

Thankfully, being an MMO, the launch of the KiaSA game should be smooth and seamless, and therefore the KiaSA team does not foresee any issue with this slightly expanded pre-release schedule for the post-game pre-order release.

Pre-thanks for your post-attention.

The KiaSA team.

The age demanded that we dance, and jammed us into iron pants.

There is as much definitive information in this post with regard to Guild Wars 2’s RMT system, as there is information in this post about the underpants I’m wearing:

I am wearing underpants.

So until anyone can accurately tell me the style, colour and condition of my underpants (and whether I’m wearing them on my head or not), they probably can’t tell me how well Guild Wars 2’s complex RMT system is going to interact with an as yet undefined player population, in an unreleased and unknown game system, with an item store that has no items defined for it, for an in-game economy that has yet to be established.

But still it won’t stop people being angry on the Internet about my underpants. Or blindly praising them to the heavens, if they’re fans and believe my underpants will host the second coming… ah, now there’s an unfortunate turn of phrase, but do enjoy the image!

“What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!” —- Lazarus Long

KiaSA’s Guild Wars 2 beta press preview.

M: Alright Mr Z, we’ve been playing in a recent press beta event, so what do we think about this so called Guild Wars 2, if that even is its real name.

Z: It’s not really a name is it?

M: ‘Guild Wars 2’ ?

Z: Indeed, it somewhat fails to convey the majesty and beauty of the game which lies hidden beneath that veil of ponderous nomenclature.

M: So we propose a different name?

Z: Absolutely so, and so absolutely. Something which does not belie the noble spirit and thrilling adventure which is found in this gamiest of games.

M: Such as?

Z: Neville.

M: Guild Wars: Neville?

Z: No, just Neville. I think that is a name which covers all the necessary bases required by an MMO of this magnitude.

M: Very well, so what do we think of it? I, for one, thought there were a few too many radishes.

Z: It was quite radishy, was it not?

M: I mean, there were radish people, radish houses, a giant minefield of explosive radishes. Three out of the five skills on my warrior’s hotbar were radish based…

Z: Ah, but were you not wielding a radish in your main hand at the time?

M: Well, yes of course, what other weapon could there be for the savage combatant?

Z: I myself prefer a radish in the off-hand, matron, thus leaving my main hand free to wield the more versatile glaive-glaive-glaive-guisarme-gooseberry

M: Well, each to their own. At least Neville 2…

Z: No, no; just ‘Neville’.

M: At least ‘Neville’ allows for a wide range of weapons within a class, although locking certain class play-styles to certain weapons may prove awkward in the long run.

Z: Speaking of ear plugs, what did we think about the World vs World vs World combat?

M: I thought they did rather well to find an arena that could hold three worlds, and frankly it was exactly the spectacle one would imagine it to be. When that one world took the folding table and smashed it over the back of that other world, while the third world leapt from the top rope and did a powerbomb on the world with the folding table? That was pretty neat.

Z: I’m just not sure about those leotards.

M: I suppose the various worlds did look a bit silly in all that figure-hugging lycra…

Z: No, ‘leotard’. Not sure about it. It should sound like leopard, but it has delusions of grandeur and affects a ridiculous pronunciation. I bet it drives a Range Rover Sport and lives in Wilmslow. Stupid leotards.

M: Right you are. But let’s talk more about Neville.

Z: Lovely fish and chips.

M: Hmm?

Z: Neville. Owns the restaurant at the end of the road. Does a mean cod in batter.

M: Ah, no, the other Neville, the one you stayed up all night playing with over the weekend.

Z: I never! This Neville sounds like a lascivious slattern!

M: I’m talking about Guild Wars 2.

Z: You mean Neville?

M: Yes.

Z: Well why didn’t you say so? All this talk of midnight philandering with strangers…

M: I wasn’t quite sure about the starship combat – didn’t really seem to fit in with the general magi-punk setting outlined in all the preview videos.

Z: It certainly was a curious addition, although perhaps they’re trying to capture some of the Star Wars: The Old Republic market. The fact that you can customise your spaceship is a positive, however.

M: Absolutely. But basing all the starship designs around the 1948 Bristol 400, albeit in an incredibly painterly style, is somewhat odd. I gave mine a fur-lined steering wheel though – fallalish.

Z: Another feature I enjoyed was that of the dynamic rifts which appear across the land.

M: Oh yes, most interesting. Did you notice that they happened to be in the form of Arthas Menethil’s spread buttocks.

Z: Really? That’s genius, I hadn’t ev…

Zoso: Hoy!

M: Busted!

Melmoth: I say, what the dickens?!

Z: Leg it!

Zoso: Who the blarmed blazes was that?

Melmoth: I’ve really no idea. I mean, they looked almost exactly like us, except for the evil-looking twirly moustache and black eyeliner.

Zoso: I quite like my twirly moustache, it’s not that evil is it?

Melmoth: No more than my black eyeliner. D’you get into the Guild Wars 2 press beta?

Zoso: Nah, I think it’s meant for, y’know, press and fan sites.

Melmoth: And we’re not a fan site?

Zoso: You wrote an entire post satirising their artistic justifications for skimpy armour design.

Melmoth: I just think they have something against twirly moustaches and black eyeliner, which is rich coming from a company that called their game Guild Wars 2.

Zoso: Well quite; I think it’s clearly a Leslie, or maybe even a Clifford Prodger.

Melmoth: I certainly think it’s trying to live up to being a Clifford Prodger, let’s hope that all the genuine gushing beta preview reports are true.

Zoso: And that we do indeed have a most magnificent Clifford Prodger on our hands.

Melmoth: I wouldn’t mind having a Clifford Prodger on my hands, that’s for sure.

Zoso: Yes, I’ve heard the rumours.

Evolution is not a force but a process.

It was the point at which I’d decided upon name, class, race, face and hair style options for my character in Guild Wars 2 when it dawned on me, that despite my better judgement and efforts to the contrary, I’d succumbed and let ArenaNet’s hype seep surreptitiously into my subconscious, like a constrictor snake slowly sliding sub rosa around its prey –which slumbers beneath that thorny shelter in the false supposition of safety– before squeezing, and then devouring it wholly.

It’s a tempered excitement, however, when compared to the hair-tearing bipolar frenzies I exhibited in the lead up to World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online. My current enthusiasm is a mellow yellow, Guild Wars 2 being the electrical banana that I believe ‘is gonna be a sudden craze’. I think this more reserved enthusiasm is, in part, due to the fact that I know that it is baseless: I have no more proof of Guild Wars 2’s qualifications for sustained entertainment than I did with Warhammer Online, and I know that the curriculum vitae presented by the game could be a carefully exaggerated construction in order for it to get its foot in the door of my attentions – mission accomplished, by the way. These days I’m well aware that I need to interview candidates thoroughly before making any commitment, Warhammer Online taught me this lesson well.

Primarily then, the game has me excited because the facts presented thus far appeal to my taste in fantasy fashions. The races are attractive and varied, even though Asura seem set to take over the Irritating Midget crown from World of Warcraft’s Gnome race, what with their short stature, cute faces, afro hairstyle option, and a racial name that invokes materialistic power-seeking Hindu deities.

(QI aside: The Wikipedia entry claims that “[Asura] is also cognate with Old Norse “Æsir”, which implies a common Proto-Indo-European origin for the Asura and the Æsir.” Which leads to interesting potential connections, considering that the Norn in Guild Wars 2 are clearly built on a foundation of Old Norse mythology.)

There certainly seems to be a little something for everyone in the spread of races, with the Charr appealing to furries and the Sylvari catering to the elf/fae/naturalist(and possibly naturist) types.

It’s harder to get excited about the classes without actually having played them, but based on the evidence thus far, I’ve found a couple that I think will interest me. From a purely aesthetic point of view then, it will be the steampunk gunplay that makes or breaks the appeal of many of the classes for me. I don’t mind steampunk, but I’ve expressed before that it’s one of those genre elements that many games fail to treat with any reverence, instead using it as an excuse to attach cogs and watches to clothing, and foist guns and comically inappropriate technology into a fantasy setting. It’s not the technology itself, but the fact that most game worlds don’t reflect the impact of such technology; it seems that no consideration is given to the effect of the technology, and so the juxtaposition of a world where people have access to guns, but many still run around wielding swords, is a jarring one. The famous scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indiana Jones waits patiently for a mercenary to finish his intricate attempt at an intimidating sword dance, before pulling out his revolver and shooting the mercenary dead, should serve as a basic reminder of the rapid change in natural order that such technology portends.

Then again, consideration rarely seems to be given to the evolution of these worlds in which magic exists either, where the only response to magicians pitching balls of fire seems to be for non-magic users to develop a lack of nerve endings and flame retardant hair, so that they can be set on fire with alarming regularity and continue fighting while also maintaining a perfectly styled coiffeur.

What’s big, hairy and sounds like a police car?

I was watching a walkthrough of the current state of character customisation in Guild Wars 2 and I couldn’t help but notice a striking similarity between one of the default male Norn faces and a certain Irish actor.
Liam NeesonA Norn

A hybrid of Liam Neeson and a Norn? I shall dub him ‘Nee-norn’, and you will know of his approaching wrath from the sound he makes:

Nee-norn, nee-norn, nee-norn!

Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.

The acquisition of skills is changing. […] A weapon’s skills are now learned by fighting with that weapon. Because weapon skills are tied to weapon use, there is no reason to visit a trainer and make choices about which ones to unlock. Instead, it makes more sense to learn how to use the weapon by, you know, actually using it.”

It will be interesting to learn more about this system, because if there was one thing that stood out as being excellent entertainment in World of Warcraft, it was getting a new shiny weapon of a sort that you hadn’t used in some time, and then having to wander off and beat endlessly on green-con mobs until your weapon skill levelled-up enough that you could actually hit normal-con mobs with it. Unlike the issues highlighted in Tiger’s posts of yore, there does at least seem to be a reason for ‘weapon skill’ levelling in Guild Wars 2.

It’s a tricky one to balance. Having a player’s character improve their skill with a weapon through the explicit use of that weapon is a romantic notion: you pick your favoured weapon and master it, becoming a Nameless, Broken Sword, Flying Snow or Sky. On the other hand we are talking about MMOs, and therefore if essential groups of skills are tied only to specific weapons, then this starts to sound like the typical MMO optimisation nightmare of needing to carry a weapon of every type, and then having to switch between them constantly in order to keep all your skills levelled up.

Here’s hoping that ArenaNet, with their alternative view of what an MMO should be, have some ideas on the subject outside of that usual mantra of the subscription-based MMOs: Grind More, Bitches! Then again, some say that current evidence may point to ArenaNet being wed to the grind.