Archive for July, 2010

I Choose To Ignore You

Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you little number. Yeah, you, the little one hanging out by my character name. Yes, you, the level marker.

You gave me grief when I talked about Guild Wars Classic to World of Warcraft people. They told me, “Level 20 is max? Well that’s a crappy game. It’s so short!”

I say no, it’s not short. The game doesn’t begin until you reach maximum level. But they just couldn’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that you (the level number) just didn’t matter very much.

Nobody seems to complain that progression in Legend of Zelda means acquiring more weapons and (in some cases) sword skills. I grew up on games where the farther you got was how far you got. Your worth as a player was not based on an arbitrary number. Even in the original pokemon which had levels you were marked on how many you acquired and how well you managed your team to defeat ever more difficult opponents. Anybody could do it at max level, but it takes skill to do it with a lower level team.

I don’t understand why MMO gamers put so much value on levels as a means of character progression. Levels do not make a Massively Multiplayer Game. Massive amounts of players do. I know this might be a concept as radical to some as oh… say… walking three blocks to the store instead of driving. It might take some getting used to, this idea that levels really don’t matter.

To that end, that’s why I believe ArenaNet has chosen a high level cap. Disregarding the (lack of) leveling curve for the moment, the tiny number accompanying a player through their gaming life will be a comfort to many. It’s not going to have as much importance as it does in other games but it’s still there. Like milk in a sippy cup.

Through instant max level and skill PvP and the (not much talked about) sidekicking system new-to-Guild Wars-players are being introduced to solid foods. While you might be very attached to your milk I urge you to try something new. You ain’t tasted nothin’ yet!

Om-Nom-Nom, Tastes Like Wood Pulp

Finally got my paws on Ghosts of Ascalon.

Local bookseller e-mailed me with news that the book is in the day AFTER I drove an hour into the city.

Devouring it now.

If you’re worried about spoilers, I’ll handle them in this manner

***SPOILER***

Charr have retractible claws!

***SPOILER***

Just select the text in between to see the spoiler. It is an actual spoiler btw, though a terribly mild one.

I’ll do my best not to make any posts with the majority of the text being whited out. That just wouldn’t be fair. We also might be chatting about it on Relics of Orr this weekend, but we’ll make sure not to spoil anything. I promise!

Like I used to do with an old boyfriend: “Why is the sky blue?”

Answer: “Because I am not allowed to give spoilers!”

Mesmerise Me, Oh Dealer in Death

There’s a storm of speculation raging around the embryonic ideas of the Mesmer and Necromancer. In Guild Wars Classic (GWC), the two covered much of the same ground, namely curses and hexes. The mesmer was unique in her manipulation of the mind and her illusionary ways while the necromancer instead chose to command control over the dead while dealing in even more nefarious forms of magic like curses.

It’s the curses and hexes that bring mesmer and necromancer aficionados to blows. A hex is, unsurprisingly, a hex spell, but so too is a curse. The question becomes then: How can the mesmer and the necromancer become unique enough to legitimize their existence in the more profession-diverse world of Guild Wars 2?

Will hexes become the sole purview of the sinister necromancer? What would be left for the mesmer? Without hexes mesmers are left with fast casting and interrupts. A generous person would give them illusions as well and disregard the fact that a mesmer’s illusions are, in fact, a form of hex spell.

Or, will hexes be commanded primarily by mesmers? Necromancers would be left with dominion over the dead. Disease no longer exists in GW2 (maybe the monks committed mass suicide to rid the world of disease?) so perhaps in lieu of diseases a necromancer could draw on poisons. Of course, that could be stepping on the toes of the theoretical assassin.

When I think of hexes I think of the Pennsylvania Dutch. I don’t live in Pennsylvania (I live in the Midwest) but there are many immigrants of germanic origin in the area I grew up and learning these signs was part of my early education.

Most people, when they think of the word ‘hex’ will think of a witch’s spell to cause harm. When I think of ‘hex’ I do think of harm, but I also see the possibility for blessing. Hex signs like the ones on the right are blessings (click through to a link to a page about the meanings of the different symbols).

It’s this dual meaning that leads me to believe that hexes could still exist in a grey area. I think most people will agree that every profession will be able to have some positive effect on a group beyond providing damage and revival. An elementalist can heal with water spells, a warrior and ranger both can deflect projectiles and protect party members. It would be easy for me to say that a necromancer’s hexes will be degenerative in nature while a mesmer might make use of their more positive aspects but I’m just not certain that will be true.

At the core of the necromancer is his affinity, nay, obsession with death. He has looked into the maw of the great beyond and has not flinched. He knows how to reach his hands into the cold well of the dead and draw forth unlife. Through his intimate knowledge of the dead he is made more capable of inflicting pain and suffering on the living.

The mesmer walks a different path. Hers is the road of deception and guile. She is aloof, unwilling to sully her hands with the dirty work but no less dangerous for it. She will make you question your own motives, stumble where once you walked with confidence, and quaver where once you were sure. She will not harm you, but instead will lead you to destroy yourself from within.

In GWC we saw the first use of illusions. It is my hope that ArenaNet will expand upon this in GW2. Instead of an illusion being nothing more than a baelful-looking icon in the corner of our screens I would like to instead see the conjured phantasm that is plaguing me. It is my hope that an illusion can be seen only by the mesmer who casts it and her intended victim. If everyone can see the conjured phantasm then it is no different in practice than a necromancer’s undead minions. But if it is real to no one but the mesmer and her victim then she has succeeded in sowing doubt and chaos.

Illusions versus undead minions. Hexes, either to curse or to bless. The necromancer and the mesmer have nearly unlimited potential. Aesthetically and culturally they are very different, though functionally they can be very much the same. Will they be wedded even more closely in the future, or will they choose paths different enough from each other that they can both exist and thrive in Guild Wars 2?

Only time will tell.

Freak-Out

This post has nothing to do with Guild Wars and everything to do with my own tech-related neuroses. Enjoy!

I stress about the darndest things, seriously.

I’m sure you’ve heard me whining about not having a computer of my own before. Well, today I bought the processor I’ll use in my new machine.

I’ve been agonizing over this choice for moths. MONTHS! Seriously. I’m not even kidding. Finally, today came, and I had to choose. I had split my budget into $100 increments for parts. $200 for the motherboard and pretty much $100 for everything else. Finally it came down to the two cards below

2.6 GHz Athlon II Quad-Core

or

3.2 GHz Phenom II Dual-Core

Do I want a faster dual-core or a slower quad-core? If I was just a gamer the answer would be easy, go with the faster speed because there are very few games (none of which I play) that utilize all four cores. I’m not above buying something less-awesome if it’s going to get the job done for less money.

But I’m not just a gamer. I’m also a digital artist and animator. 3D is my medium of choice and I (shamefully) haven’t touched it in two years. I fully intend to remedy this once I have built my new machine.

But I’m not overly-worried about render times either. I know how to streamline my workflow to use less computer resources (hide the high-poly model I’m animating and use a low-poly placeholder instead, turn off textures in the viewer, etc) and I’ll be doing almost all of my high-quality rendering while I’m at work or asleep. I’ve been saving for (and agonizing over) this machine for six months now, patient Tiger is kinda-patient.

What does matter to me is multi-tasking. I am a ridiculous multi-tasker, especially when I’m working on a 3D project. It’s not uncommon for me to be running two separate 3D programs, one imaging program with multiple projects, a dozen or so internet tabs (some with video), and a music player all at once.

I finally decided to go with the quad-core. The thing that really decided me were the reviews. Just about everybody who overclocked this card got it up to 3.0 GHz with no problems and the stock (air) cooling. I’m going to be buying a motherboard with built-in overclocking features so I figured, why not.

So long as I can get the speed I want, who knows, I might just come to truly appreciate faster render times.

Now comes the great “SLI or Crossfire” debate. SLI is more expensive and on paper it looks like the Crossfire architecture is more stable. I’m still up in the air over this (I’m terribly suceptible to novelty). I doubt I’ll make a decision until it comes time to actually buy the card. If you Know What You’re Talking Aboutâ„¢ you’re welcome to comment.

BLA BLA BLA

Blah?

no, BLA!

Battle for Lion’s Arch!

Or – In which the under-appreciated have their day.

Namely protection monks, paragons, warriors, and fire elementalists.

I don’t have any fancy narrative of the occasion like Hunter does. Truth be told I was busy watching health bars and the mini-map. I had no idea the groups we faced were slowly changing composition from white mantle thralls to jade armors and the like.

I’ve found that when prot monking watching your mini-map is every bit as important as watching your party’s health bars. Aegis does no good if half your party is out of earshot.

But back to the BLA. Our healing monk was Ogden, my Ogden in fact. I tend to get a little protective when it comes to heals (o u c wut i did thar?). If I’m going to be protting I want a healer hero built to my specifications (human healers can build like they want, they’re mostly more intelligent than a hero).

I’ve also hear people give warriors and fire eles crap about being useless. Everybody loves an Imbagon (imbalanced paragon) but they work in the shadows right along-side protection monks and rarely get the recognition they deserve.

It’s always: “Hey, that heal came just in time!” or “Nice spike damage that jade cloak dropped like a ton of bricks!”

It’s never: “Man that Aegis really saved my butt” or “Thanks for the warning that the enemies are on fire, I’m not burning as bad!” (‘They’re On Fire’ is the only paragon skill I know)

Warriors and Fire Eles are so passé, so Prophecies. Nobody groups with them anymore.

Well ya know what?

I did.

And I do, and I will again in a heartbeat.

The Battle for Lion’s Arch was a brutal endurance race against nearly impossible odds. We wiped more than once and we used all advantages at our disposal including summoned creatures and other consumables.

Even with all of that it was an exhilarating fight that harkened back to Thunderhead Keep in the pre-nerf days, or of your first time fighting the Lich at the end of Prophecies. It reminded me of the days before heroes when the henchmen were more of a liability than an aid and everyone would rather run a group of 7 than bring Alesia.

The best part was at the end we all gathered around to listen to the end of the story and patted each other on the back. When you run with a group of people who are used to being under-appreciated the ‘great job guys’ ring out with true sincerity. There’s no sense of “Hey congrats but you really know I did all the work”. We’re used to not seeing much direct result from our labors, or getting any credit.

As for me, I’ve embraced the philosophy of Guild Wars 2: “If you have to heal damage taken, you’ve already lost.”

I Think My Brain Exploded

Between (not) healing and death, the ranger, the new map, chapters 2 & 3 of Ghosts of Ascalon, and my own Urgoz party I think I’m a little bit worn out. I’m overloaded! I would not feel neglected if there were no new information this week (shocker I know!).

Some highlights of what’s going through my too-cluttered brain right now:

  • I like the new ranger. I like its diversity but I’m still not sure it’s for me.
  • Ghosts of Ascalon looks readable. It’s no Obsidian Trilogy, but I think I’ll enjoy it.
  • Must pester the local bookseller to have it for me on release.
  • No healing? No dedicated healing? I’ve just been granted sufferage? I’ve just been given equal rights? I can… I can… FREE AT LAST FREE AT LAST!
  • For the most part, I am tired of monking.
  • Celestial shields are preeeeeety.
  • BRB, building an Illusionary Weapon mesmer.
  • How do I use this thing?
  • What is this I don’t even!
  • Nobody, not nobody knows where I got the name ‘Marcinta Leovinus’.
  • And that’s just too bad.
  • I get to yap yap yap some more on Relics of Orr!
  • Neato!
  • I am the most impatient pickle-maker.
  • If there is any new information this week I hope it’s something fun and light-hearted.
  • “Won’t it be great in GW2 when _____” is my new catch-phrase.
  • Like jumping.
  • I’ll get you you evil fence!
  • And your little bush too!
  • /shakefist

It’s been a long time since I’ve logged off of a game in the evening in a better mood than I was when I logged on in the first place. I have to give all credit to my new friends in the game, to the Relics of Orr guild and to Hunter and his crazy friend Vin (who are always willing to let me drag them around somewhere, like taking on hydras in the Crystal Desert to get my mesmer a warrior secondary)

This next week I think I’ll be taking it easy. I’ve got another GW2 drawing I’m working on of a charr and asura. I’m really liking how it’s turning out but I’m not rushing it either. It is only when you stop trying to do something and actually do it that the thing becomes accomplished. To that end, I’m not trying to draw something neat (and possibly beyond my abilities) I’m just sitting down and drawing, not worrying about the outcome.

Map This

Old/New Tyria overlay map.

I did it first. So there.

Grumpy Tiger is grumpy.

Trolling is bad, that’s why I have a blog to whine about forum stuff.

Also party tonight, don’t forget.