Tag Archives: guild wars 2

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.

What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.

My first thought on seeing ArenaNet’s reveal of the Sylvari 2.0 – Now with 50% more foliage!, was that they certainly passed the international standard cosplay checklist:

  • Opportunity to paint skin weird colours? Check.
  • Liberal use of liquid latex a must? Check.
  • Option to expose varying levels of said latexed/painted flesh, up to and including ‘disturbing’? Check.
  • Costume design that has ‘we’re going to need a bigger sewing machine’ written all over it? Check.
  • Compulsory requirement to stick foam shapes and bits of Plasticine to one’s head? Check.
  • Is it a hat or is it hair? Check.
  • Tattoos? Check.
  • Crazy luminous tattoos that someone is going to use as an excuse to make their nipples glow in the dark? Check.
  • Contact lenses considered mandatory? Check.
  • Potential for hormone colliding crossplay? Check.
  • Eschews traditional human-style gender roles? Check.

So yes, it’s all looking good on the cosplay front. And back. But mainly the front. Must be those bioluminescent nipple tattoos.

Reading a bit of background to the Sylvari, it seems that ArenaNet are trying to present a race which is a little bit alien, a little bit fae, a foundation usually filled by elves in traditional fantasy RPGs. Sadly few designers have managed to portray elves as anything more than an aloof sect of infinitely skilled disdainful know-it-alls. An elf race should give the opportunity to really explore that gulf which experience provides, that juxtaposition of a human-like being with the alien nature of one who has witnessed countless centuries, but it rarely seems to be expressed in games other than through that cunning narrative device of an arched eyebrow and a slightly condescending tone of voice. ArenaNet have branched off from this approach, taking the alien nature and layering it on to a budding young race, one that is inexperienced, although not naive. The Sylvari connection to The Dream will surely resonate with anyone who has enjoyed White Wolf’s Changeling: The Dreaming, and the second Sylvari design keystone of ‘curiosity’ can only help play to this fae feeling. Again though, as with the comparison to elves, the Sylvari differ from the fae in that they are a young race, and therefore there isn’t the unwieldy baggage of a millennia of complex history to weigh the players down as they travel through the world. There’s certainly plenty to like about this race, and more than enough to differentiate it substantially from the other races the game provides; much as I felt about the Undead in World of Warcraft, there’s something about the Sylvari that seems to set them apart from the other warring races. Although the other races in World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 all have a look and feel that differentiates them from one another, they still feel as though they come from the same basic stock, whereas the Undead and Sylvari have that slightly unknowable quality to them.

As for the physical design of the race, well we’re on the second edition [probably should avoid book metaphors, tree people may find books slightly offensive – Ed.], and it’s always going to be a subjective issue. In my view I think they still haven’t gone far enough towards the alien end of the scale, but it’s always going to be difficult to tell from a select number of screenshots. Certainly our friend to the left with the tree branch hair is approaching that level, whereas the one below right is definitely ticking all the boxes on the Foxy Chick With Leaf Hair cosplay checklist. Again though, there may well be variety in the character creation so that both options are viable, and there will almost certainly be people who like the ideals of the Sylvari, but to whom a strange alien appearance doesn’t appeal. Not to mention it’s a tricky scale on which to balance: at one end you have the Poison Ivy look, which is essentially a Playboy model with green lipstick and body suit, and at the other end you have World of Warcraft’s druid Tree of Life form, certainly a far more alien sentient plant design, but perhaps far less appealing to the majority of players. So I imagine ArenaNet’s Kristen Perry slid up and down this scale (having seen pictures of the inside of ArenaNet’s studio, I wouldn’t put it past them to have created a giant fun-park scale which everyone could slide up and down on tea trays) trying to balance a requirement for alien humanoid flora against a desire to still present an attractive aesthetic design; it’s a design brief where I imagine H.R. Giger would have had a field day.

Certainly the current Sylvari incarnation is an improvement over the original design, and it manages to find a place on the design scale that avoids the horrors of both Tree of Life Form in a Bikini and Naked Human Wrapped in Stinging Nettles, something for which I’m sure cosplayers and cosplay admirers everywhere will be grateful.

We dance when e’er we’re able.

“Finally, no matter how fantastic a game’s music is, when you hear the same music for the thousandth time, you start wanting to change things up a bit. Many players will simply turn the game music off and play their own collections. The problem is that an external music player has no context as to what’s going on in-game. Guild Wars 2 will offer a solution for this as well. We’re giving players the option of choosing external music playlists that the game’s audio engine will use as a replacement for the default in-game music. Players can choose different playlists for background ambience and battle music, for instance. Additionally, when appropriate, such as during cinematics, the game can revert back to in-game music temporarily to give the best possible cinematic experience, then resume the custom playlist when it’s done.”

ArenaNet continue their series of audio design diaries with an interesting piece detailing some of the new features they’ll be adding to the audio system for Guild Wars 2.

As a player of MMOs who generally turns the sound off after a while, I have to say that I’m quite excited at the prospect of being able to tweak the music score when the mood takes me. Jeremy Soule’s soundtracks are always a delight, but still, there are nevertheless going to be days when you just feel the urge to listen to something a bit different.

It’s fun that (they claim) you can pick your own selection of ambient and battle music to be played at the appropriate time determined by the game system, and I’m already considering the excellent possibilities that such a system would allow: battle music set to Yakety Sax, the Ying Tong Song or the The Tra La La Song? How about a hook for when you inevitably run away from combat or attempt to avoid crap mobstacles, for which there can only be one song to bravely throw-in the sponge to. Then there’s the possibility to switch things up a bit, having songs such as Iron Maiden’s Run for the Hills as ambient music, while Eine kleine Nachtmusik tentatively tinkles into your ears whenever an epic battle breaks out.

Once again ArenaNet are making all the right noises, where the overarching impression I take away from their media presentations is one of ‘careful consideration of the issues facing players of MMOs’; it’s encouraging, yet my enthusiasm still can’t help but be tempered by the fact that we’ve heard asseverations like these in the MMO space before, where the resultant game did not seem to deliver anything like the promises of its promoters.

In war we’re tough and able,
Quite indefatigable.
Between our quests we sequin vests and impersonate Clark Gable.

I even think that sentimentally I am disposed to harmony.

“At ArenaNet, we’re serious about audio. This week we’re going to take a look behind the scenes at the Audio Team that has been working so hard to create a compelling soundscape for Guild Wars 2.”

So begins ArenaNet’s latest blog post looking behind the scenes at various production elements of the game, this time concerning audio.

It isn’t really necessary though. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s splendid to learn that attention to detail is important to ArenaNet throughout all systems of their game, and the insight provided as to how they achieve their results is fascinating. However, I can’t help but feel that this particular effort is a little wasted, because as long as the haunting orchestral chanting of the traditional Guild Wars theme comes blaring out of my speakers (with the option to turn the volume up to Over 9000) as soon as I launch the game, drowning out all else, and never stopping until I logout, then I’ll be perfectly content; the rest of the game’s audio could consist of ArenaNet engineers performing interpretive armpit farts, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t notice.

Just give me that song and my soul is sold.