Archive for August, 2010

Another Reason Pie Is Awesome

Pumpkin Pie, from Guild Wars 2 Guru, went and turned a couple of the Guild Wars alphabets into actual, useable fonts. OMG FONTS!

I’m a bit of a font snob.

I’m getting visions of a young Krytan poring over dusty old ledgers in the Durmand Priory, searching for her lost lineage.

So far we have Old Ascalonian and Canthan.

I’ve got my fingers crossed for one in New Krytan. That one might be a bit coming though, because I think we’re still missing 5 or so letters.

Yeah, I Went There

The Hall of Monuments is a place for your Guild Wars character to put up her prizes for future generations. I already know that my future incarnation in Guild Wars 2 will have fur and enjoy ripping face.

But what about Morgan’s actual descendants? I’m a bit crazy about geneology (damn you Civil War for destroying my family’s papers so that I’ll never be part of the DAR!!!), and throw in a timeline for everything that happens in the Guild Wars universe, let stew for 250 years and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

I present to you the product of my insanity. An account of my main character in Guild Wars, Morgan Ascot, and her children, as laid down in the Durmand Priory by her youngest son.

The Ascot Family Chronicle

After the youngest son dies no more history is recorded. Instead I’ve set myself up a history for any human character I might like to make int he future.

The Ascot family, as founded by Morgan and Bayhas, remain strong devotees of Dwayna. Through trade and support of Queen Salma (and later Queen Jennah) the Ascots now enjoy a prominent place in human society. They are largely of Elonian descent.

The Billings family, as founded by the warrior Asma and then Lidda Ascot and Daniel Billings enjoy a modest life as Moa ranchers. They produce the finest moa meat and eggs in the Divinity Coast region as well as offering Golden Moas as pets for aspiring rangers. They marry widely and are largely of Krytan descent.

The Leovinus family, thanks to the actions of its founder, Marcinta, have never been what one would call respectible. To take the low road in Divinity’s Reach is to find a Leovian trickster plying his trade. They are largely of Ascalonian or Canthan descent.

Also, I have fanart.

I don’t know why an asura would want to wear a fedora (other than the fact that they’re awesome) but this one certainly loves his.

Specifics – Sketched and painted in Photoshop CS2 using a Wacom Intuos 3.

Like A Lady In Her Bower

You step into the world. You can feel the gravel as it crunches under your boot, the sole of your foot registers the irregularities through the leather. A crisp morning breeze carries eddies of mist redolent with moisture and the earthy scent of forest loam. It’s only just sunrise and the first rays of dawn are arcing overhead, gilding the sky. In the distance you hear the raspy waark  of a moa’s call, made indistinct and muddy by the mist. All around you the world stirs to life.

You have never come this way before. The gentle swell of the distant hills, while evoking some vestige of memory, are still largely unfamiliar. In your previous life you traveled these lands and plumbed their secrets. You pulled back the curtains and laid Tyria’s deepest mysteries bare to the light of day. And yet, two-hundred and fifty years later she has drawn the cloak of the unknown about her again. She waits for you. Her eyes say ‘come hither’ but her bowers and her forests hold unknown dangers. She is intoxicating and treacherous. She is unmapped, untamed, wild.

Your ears strain and you think back to that moa’s call you heard. Was it truly a moa hiding in the early morning mists, waking with the dawn, or was it the call of something more dangerous, something sinister? Where you thought the day held splendor and promise, now you wonder at what the shadows may hide. You fear the rocks that Tyria’s siren call may have hidden. What lies beyond those hills, hidden deep in the valleys? None have passed this way who can tell you.

Tyria is as changing as the shifting sands. She is duplicitous and fickle. The way things are is not the way they will be, which are not the way they were. You may spend all day adventuring upon the heath, learning its secrets, only to find that new terrors arise during the gloaming hours. Watch now, as the sun murders the sky and stains the world with red. Tyria has prepared new trials for you when the lights go out. The hours are not the same and those you once called ‘friend’ may in truth be false.

So keep your wits about you, hero. Come to Tyria forewarned of her volatile wiles and you just may survive long enough to answer the oft-asked question…

What’s your story?

————————————-

I’m thinking of turning this into some kind of spoken-word deal. What do you think, is this something you would like to hear?

Also, I have finally stepped into the world of twitter. I should have an icon link up on my sidebar shortly. I plan on using it to let people know when I’m in-game and playing.

Also, Hunter and I did NOT coordinate. I honestly don’t know how that happened.

Neener

It's not pink, it's faded blood.

So I made this fantastic drawing of an excited charr and then Hunter had to go and pooh pooh all over it whining that the fierce felines don’t wear pink.

Well what do you think about THAT?

<—-

Hmmmmmm?

I also have it on good authority that the charr behind the pink one (who is, incidentally, wearing white and pink) is none other than Regina Buenaobra.

Neener neener.

All light-hearted bickering aside, did you see the dye system? Holy CRAP! The best video I know of (if you know of a better one please link it in the comments) is my friend Tasha’s (fellow cohost on Relics and DJ at SI Radio).

You have to skip to the end if you want to see the dye stuff. I recommend watching the whole thing, however. Tasha plays at a bit slower pace than I saw in most of the other videos but I thought that gave us a nice opportunity to actually look around. I also enjoyed how the camera operator zoomed in on the screen, though the auto-focus was a bit slow.

I’m thinking that I might try to unify all my characters with a single color scheme. I don’t think it will involve pink (I’m not a huge fan, my favorite color is actually green), but we’ll just have to wait and see. I see plenty of opportunity for hideous color combinations, but that’s the price of freedom and I’ll take the occasionally gaudy-ugly character over a restrictive dye system any day.

Also, I updated PeltWatch. Enjoy!

Wash Your Paws Before Dinner

Hunter, you were spot on. I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED that charr run on all fours (At least until they pull out weapons, then it’s back paws only). I don’t think I can over-state how excited I am about that. It scratches my bestial itch. I’m not a furry, but I do enjoy the primal nature inherent in beast-like classes and races. The charr give me the same satisfaction that I had from playing a feral druid in WoW. And now I can feel bestial and cast spells if I want to! (instead of being an overweight moon chicken) It kind of puts the kibosh on skirts though. My mattress is on the floor and if I try to wear a nightgown to bed (sometimes I feel like being ye olde Tiger) I just end up tripping all over it and eventually breaking either the nightgown, nightstand, or myself.

I’m clumsy. Shut up.

Where was I? Charr on all fours. Excellent.

Also special thanks to Guild Mag for posting the unofficial gameplay video of the charr on their itunes stream. I can see that at work. More please!

The first videos I saw, however, were of the human starting areas.

Here’s some of my initial reactions:

• I’m not a fan of the glowing halo around monsters and allies. After watching the charr video though I think I’ll be able to get used to it. It will certainly make selecting monsters and allies easier. In GWC I rely heavily on tab-targeting and my party window. Every time I try to select from models on the screen I fail miserably and give up in disgust.

• I’m pretty underwhelmed with the User Interface, but that’s not a big deal. Remember what the GWC beta interface looked like? (I actually liked the beta interface btw)

Yeah. I’m sure it’ll get a nice coat of “ooh shiny” before the game goes live. As far as the layout of the interface goes I like it just fine, actually I like it a lot. If there’s clickable things on the left I wish they were on the right where the energy bar is (e.g., swapped) but that’s just because that when playing I usually keep my mouse in the right half of my screen. GWC offers a stupid amount of built-in customization options for the interface. I have no reason to doubt it’ll be any different for GW2.

I’m getting a strong WAR vibe from it. I think it has to do with the objectives being in an itemized list in the upper-right hand corner. That’s not a bad thing, I really enjoyed WAR. I think that vibe comes from just seeing the human areas however. Once I saw the charr video that vibe wasn’t there, but once again, I’d like to stress that I don’t consider the WAR vibe to be a bad thing at all.

Also, hunter you have my eternal gratitude for posting a screenshot using photobucket! It’s hanging out in an extra tab, not pulling bandwidth (like a video would) and not getting me in trouble. You’re awesome man.

(notice how I just gave up using bullet points? Yeah what happened there?)

In the video that GuildMag posted, Martin seems to be playing a warrior and I’m excited to see that the character still feels very lithe. I’m not a fan of big and bulky which is why I usually shy away from heavily-armored professions. If I can get the lean jungle cat feeling from the charr I just might be sold on playing a warrior.

My thoughts on the charr video:

• Martin doesn’t do a very good job of “don’t stand in the bad” but I guess if you’re a developer playing a tricked out character it doesn’t matter all that much.

• Gender lines for the charr are feeling a little blurred. It’s probably just because of the video quality but I really have to squint at those tails.

• That dual-mace spin-attack skill looks really cool. I want ten.

• I like the brush-stroke activation bars. More of their painterly aesthetic.

• Turrets! Turrets are always fun.

• Steeleye Span can be overrun. I’m thinking it probably won’t be mobile. Ah well.

• I like the map functionality. The zoom and fade effects when pulling it up and down are very nice. It looks big. I mean really big.

• Also moas. /cheer.

• The sounds in the NPC communication ‘windows’ (they’re not exactly windows) reminds me of Kingdom Hearts. I’m not too crazy about it. (I didn’t care for Kingdom Hearts and I don’t feel its cartoony aesthetic fits with GW2.) That’s just my opinion though, and the sound could have been distorted.

• Who let those harpies out of Elona? Bad harpy, no biscuit! I haaaaaated Elonian harpies. Heket too.

I was really excited to finally hear from some animators on ArenaNet’s blog. I love working in 3D in general, but animation is my passion. Heron Prior mentioned that the dragon wasn’t mocapped and I’m curious to know who asked about that. How do you mocap a dragon, really? Toss a cat on the ground? It would just be easier to animate by hand.

All in all, it’s still a game I really want to play. I can’t wait to see some higher-quality in-game footage. That’s going to be fantastic.

With Your Head on the Ground and Your Feet in the Air

I just had a revelation (shocking, I know) while listening to the latest Relics of Orr (because I’m just that narcissistic). But I think ArenaNet has just up-ended everything.

No, I know that’s not news, but bear with me.

Dynamic Events are cyclical and repeatable.

Personal Story is personal and the missions within can only be done once.

Dynamic Events are GW2’s replacement for Quests.

Personal Story is GW2’s replacement for storyline and (speculatively) end-game.

Conclusion: The leveling process is repeatable, the end-game is not (unless you make a new character)

I don’t know about you, but I have been trained and conditioned to think of the end-game as something that continues. I was never in a really high-end raiding guild (we weren’t terrible, but we were no ensidia either) so for me there has always been one more goal on the horizon, something to keep me going until the next expansion came out.

That ties into what Tasha was talking about in our last episode. A pay-to-play game has to have that one extra goal that you just can’t quite reach or you won’t continue to pay. Players must be kept busy.

I’m suddenly consumed with curiosity over GW2’s dungeons. We know there will be dungeons, there have been allusions to a dungeon ‘system’, and we know they aren’t ready to talk about it yet. I’m suddenly interested, I want to know!

Well Zhaitan be in a dungeon or will he be in our Personal Story? The answer to this question is very important to me. I want to be able to go beat on Zhaitan again if I want to. I really like the Zaishen quests and the opportunity to go back and do old content with a group of real people all over again.

I just… I just… I don’t know I don’t know!

The reason I’m so anxious about this is because of the newbies. The newcomers to the Guild Wars franchise. A repeatable end-game is what everyone is used to and if it’s not there I think ArenaNet could be setting themselves up for a firing squad. Innovation is great and I love being able to do something different but a robust end-game is just not something you muck with.

We know there won’t be dungeons which require you to grind endlessly for armor and weapons (yay), but will there be something to keep people coming back to the dungeons? I’m thinking my fears are probably unfounded, but this not knowing has me nervous. I want GW2 to succeed. Being the care-bear that I am I also want everyone to like it.

When I was in college I was astonished at how mean the wow-heads were. These were fanboys of WoW (even before release) who were so rabid that any attempt at a serious discussion about the merits of other games or shortfalls of WoW (graphics, even in those days) was met with such a savage outpouring of livid vitriol that I was thrown into flashbacks of 6th grade bullying. And this wasn’t even over the internet, this was face-to-face. Really, it was bad. It took me two years to even look at WoW because of personalities like that. It’s a deep fear of mine that ArenaNet will make some miscalculation and our beloved Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 will be drowned in an avalanche of hate.

I say I want GW2 to be wildly successful because I want to have fun. But maybe I just want it to be my big brother and go beat up the kids who called me names.

———-

I’d like everyone to take a moment of silence, please. I came home today to find my husband in the backyard, in the rain, with a shovel.

We have been nursing a cat that showed up on our back step since last Friday. The local shelters were full and we couldn’t afford vet care, so we did what we could. He (the cat) was weak and thin. We think he might have been injured. He ate and drank freely (though not much) and did his best to use the litter box we provided him. We think he was someone’s pet once (though all our neighbors denied ownership), and we think he might have run afoul of the young kids who tear up and down our street in their cars.

He would have been a beautiful cat. He was a black tuxedo type with white on his muzzle, paws, and chest with long fur, though definitely not a persian type. We never meant to keep him.

My only wish is that we’d had a gun so that his final six hours had not needed to happen. You’re in a better place now furball, I’m sorry you had to hurt so much.

It’s Mine! NO It’s Mine! I Saw It Fiiiiiiirst!

That’s all I’ve been hearing for the past few days. I hear it from WoW fans and general haters alike. What are they saying?

The Shaterer looks like Deathwing. ArenaNet copies Blizzard!

Never mind that Blizzard’s looking for group feature was adapted from the ones in place with Guild Wars Classic and Warhammer Online. Never mind that Blizzard’s in-game voice chat (while admittedly a complete failure) was ripped off of Dungeons & Dragons Online. Never mind a hundred other things that Blizzard aggregated from other sources and implemented into their game.

Nope, because when someone else does it that’s when we’ll throw a fit. Yep.

I liked WoW. I liked it a lot. But I’m not going to sit here and rave about how it was an innovator in the genre. What it did was take a lot of tried and tested elements and put them together in such a way that a fun and addicting game was created. That’s why WoW is so popular and that’s why GW2 isn’t going to kill it. (GW2 + SWToR might, but that’s another blog post)

What is going to happen (by the grace of Dwayna) is that GW2 will be a fun engaging game that gives people a completely unique experience. Not everybody is going to enjoy that experience. Some people enjoy playing a spreadsheet (my husband), some people enjoy long, elaborate, and scripted boss fights (myself, so long as I’m not in charge). My hope is that there will be enough variety in GW2 that a majority of people will find something they enjoy, if not necessarily what they had expected.

But let’s take a look at those dragons why don’t we?

Shatterer is obnoxious to type, he shall henceforth be known as 'The Shatner'

Comparing the in-game Shatner and the concept art of Deathwing I can say “Ok, I know where you’re coming from”. I would point out that The Shatner has crystal shards for wings and no actual wingsails, is surrounded in lightning, and is purple. While Deathwing is red, has magma for innards and definitely has traditional dragon wings.

I don’t want to debate trifles though. Looking at silhouettes (which is what any good artist should do) I can say that yes, they look similar.

… Until I look at the in-game model. Honestly, I don’t know how they dropped that ball. Granted, the model looks fine. It’s typical WoW stylization which is also fine, but there was definitely something lost in translation between concept art and 3D rendering.

So if we want to compare apples to apples (please, let’s). Here’s concept art:

Those look like very different dragons to me. One is molten lava, the other is metal electricity. So they’ve both got a nice strong chin. That same logic doesn’t make Rytlock look like Christopher Reeve.

Now let’s compare in-game images:

Still, completely different. There’s the stylistic differences (because I’m a fangirl I would compare it to Monet vs Tex Avery), but we still have elemental differences. The Shatner is metal and electricity, Deathwing is stone and magma.

He put the DRAGON in the D&D

They both have horns, they both have wings. They share a similar silhouette. By that logic I would say they’re both ripping off of this guy.

So come on folks. It’s a dragon. There’s only so many ways to make a dragon look unique. So both games have them. Dragons for the ultimate bad-guy in GW2 have been in the planning stages at least since Eye of the North. I’m sure Blizzard has been keeping Deathwing under their hat for just as long.

Great minds think alike and hey… looks like we all (no matter what game we play) enjoy beating up on some dragons.