The Lost Shores awaits…

One thing that may be apparent is that it’s been a while since I posted anything here.  It hasn’t been forgotten, I just have been involved in various things.

The main thing that’s been occupying my time (other than work and life as usual, obviously) is the Guild Wars 2 Wiki.  This is an official wiki that was set up and hosted by ArenaNet, but the content is updated and maintained by players.  It is far more informative than many other MMOs I’ve seen.  For my part, I’ve been involved mainly with the game release content pages, most recently the upcoming Lost Shores release.

Ain’t so lost anymore…

The Lost Shores is the November content release for Guild Wars 2, following on the heels of October’s Shadow of the Mad King release (seriously, the prelude for it began the day the Halloween content was removed).  Touted as almost a mini-expansion, there’s such a huge amount of content incoming for this release that I can only think part of it had been started months ago.  A new map, a new enemy, a new “infinite” scaling dungeon, a new PvP map, and a full weekend-long event to kick the whole thing off.  I’ve been very involved in documenting as much as possible on the wiki, so go take a look for all your Lost Shores info.

There’s a couple things I want to bring up, though. (Only text below, bring your reading glasses, though I promise it’s not bad) Continue reading


The Nature of Dynamic Events – ArenaNet’s Hat Trick

As stated in my previous post, Dynamic Events are the primary form of content in Guild Wars 2.  I say this with almost total certainty, in fact.  Primary content in an MMO should become more plentiful as you become higher level, because you are more capable and expect more.  As we learned recently, there are no renown areas in Orr (the majority of the high level zones in GW2 are in Orr), yet there are twice as many Dynamic Events in these high level areas.  In addition, there are far more Dynamic Events than other types of content (over 1500 events as of a year ago and still growing).

What are Dynamic Events though, and why move to this?  This type of content fascinates me, not only with the flexibility of the content, but also how events seem to take benefits of previous forms and remove the problems with those forms of content.  Everyone has probably played a game where there were some aspects they really liked, but it also had problems that really soured the experience.

There’s a pretty awesome video of a panel ArenaNet did in 2010 at GDC Europe where they describe the whole Dynamic Event system, how they came to this setup, and things they learned early on.  Give it a look, it’s really enlightening into the whole process even if one or two aspects may not have made it to current iterations.  Of particular value (to me, at least) is their descriptions of the first two eras of MMO content (starting at 1:05, or the Hunting and Questing sections), and their benefits and problems. Continue reading

Dynamic Events and the Subtle Training of Questing

Ever since the BWEs started, there’s been plenty of discussion about the game and how everything works out for the players.  Between the new combat system, overflow servers, new event system, fast travel, personal story, etc there’s a lot of things that can possibly go wrong.  One thing definitely comes up a lot though, and that’s the fact that it’s possible to 100% complete an area yet still not be leveled up enough to move on to the next area.

On the world map there are five items that are tracked: waypoints, points of interest, skill challenges, renown areas (hearts), and the new vistas.  There are a limited number of these on each map and they are all one-time completions.  This makes these items very good for completion tracking, so it makes sense they would do this.  However, there’s a problem that has been rearing it’s ugly head for a while now, and it has to do with the interaction between these completion goals and how dynamic events work. Continue reading

Norrath to Tyria: Skills – It’s Not the Size That Counts, It’s How You Use it! (Part 2)

In the last post I covered the layout of the skill bar.  While this is a major part of the skill system, it is yet only a part of it.  Both systems are also distinguished by how you learn skills and how you use them, and even here they are significantly different.

EverQuest 2 has a skill system that is very much about multiple upgrade paths for skills, either upgrading the individual skill via upgrades or replacing it with a more powerful version as you level.  Guild Wars 2 skills, on the other hand, have only one version of each skill that automatically scales based on your level and build, relying on the versatility of the skills and builds to provide complexity.  That’s a significant difference, both in skill design and in-game feel as you use them.

There’s a good amount to cover here so let’s jump right in. Continue reading

Norrath to Tyria: Skills – Kitchen Sink or Deck of Cards? (Part 1)

Skills are the bread and butter current mainstream MMO combat, whether you want to call them combat arts, abilities, spells, or whatever.  Pressing a skill icon on your bar (by clicking a hotkey) activates an action to attack, heal, buff, etc.  This style has generally become known as “hotkey MMOs” by many, sometimes even in a negative connotation.

Seeing as how combat is a very large part of most MMOs, these systems tend to be very complex and pretty deep .  There’s a lot more work going into these systems than just what you use during combat including how you gain them, how you improve them, any customization options available to provide different strengths, etc.

While EQ2 and GW2 both fall into the hotkey style, the method in which they utilize it are significantly different, so let’s take a look at the two systems. Continue reading

GW2 BWE2 Report – Second verse, better than the first…

Well, another BWE has come and gone.  I don’t really know if I can properly put into words just how much I love this game.  From the gameplay (which admittedly still needs work but is already awesome) to the art style to how smooth the game feels to how alive they made it seem…

Biased?  Yeah, it’s true.  I find it hard not to be, to be honest.

I’ll readily admit it’s not perfect and various systems need work between now and launch (8/28/2012, BTW, revealed today), but to be honest it was hard to pull myself away from this game just from the beta (as my wife will attest).  I haven’t felt this much joy at exploring and roaming around since the original EverQuest, if that means anything to those reading.  That weekend was a really bad time for everyone around me, though.  Almost everyone I personally know was unable to be in the beta, including one person who barely got any time in on the first BWE either (although he did get a little time during the stress test yesterday).  Even ScottyD was only able to be on for a few hours at the very end.

Regardless, I had a good time and found a few bugs, so here is my general report from the BWE.  I may not do one for the next one since the launch is so close, I’ll see how things go. Continue reading