Archive for July, 2011

The Ball Is Angry

If you know me then you probably know that I’ve been playing a good amount of League of Legends (LoL) lately. It’s a fun game with a certain visceral playstyle that I hope is mirrored in Guild Wars 2.

When playing LoL, it’s not necessary to constantly monitor your skills. You have four character skills (unique to and constant for that character) and two summoner skills (global across all characters which can be changed before a match is begun). Movement is click-to-move and attack, so Q W E R F and G are re-mapped to be your skill buttons. This took some getting used to.

Because there are only six skills to worry about, memorizing them and their effects is relatively easy. There is a health, mana, and experience bar on the bottom of the screen as well as a target box on the top, but these are wholly unnecessary. You, your teammates’ and all enemy units have their health and mana displayed above their head. This is a true Head’s Up Display. I don’t need to look at extraneous bars elsewhere on the screen to monitor the damage I’m doing or the damage I’m taking. It’s right there in front of me. I don’t have to look at a casting indicator to see what the enemy is doing, the skill effect makes it quite obvious.

Area of Effect skills have colored rings to denote friendly or hostile skills. We know Guild Wars 2 is also doing this and it’s a simple and supremely effective tactic. The skill particles and animation conveys the skill’s effect while the border color conveys its friendliness.

All that information is great and very important to an active combat style, but it’s not the most important comparison I’m drawing between LoL and GW2. What I’m talking about is battlefield control, and that’s where my lovely clockwork lady comes in.

Meet Orianna. She’s a bit of an odd duck. All of her skills revolve around her ‘pet’ ball. With her first skill, Command: Attack, she throws the ball. It does a decreasing amount of damage to everything it hits along the way to its destination. So if your goal is to harass and bully some enemy players that are hiding behind a line of creeps (weak NPC trash mobs) you’ll need to execute some flanking maneuvers, or throw the ball twice, once to get through the creeps and again to slam into an enemy champion.

Her second skill, Command: Dissonance, creates an electrical field in an area around the ball’s current location. This field does a middling amount of damage, but more importantly it slows foes and speeds up allies. ArenaNet is making heavy use with this type of mechanic in Guild Wars 2. Look at Ray of Judgement for example. It lances out lightning that bounces between friend and foe alike. When it strikes a foe it causes damage, when it strikes an ally there is a small amount of healing done. Giving a skill multiple effects based on the target adds depth and more utility than most skills. With Command: Dissonance I can use it to kill a mob of creeps, I can use it to slow enemy champions, helping my team net a kill, or I can use it as a speed boost to either chase or get back into the action after a death. It’s an extremely useful skill.

Orianna’s third skill, Command: Protect, has similar utility to her second. The ball flies from wherever it is and attaches to a friendly target. While in transit the ball does damage similar to that from Command: Attack. It forms a protective barrier around the ally (or Orianna herself), absorbing a small amount of damage, but it also generates a weak static field and does damage to any enemy nearby. From one skill we get damage in a line, damage in an area, and protection.

Her fourth (ultimate) skill isn’t worth mentioning in the context of this post. It basically creates a vortex and sucks enemies in and does damage. There is no effect on allies.

So that’s how the ball works in black and white, but once you bring it into an active combat environment multiple nuances of color start appearing. Orianna’s ball cannot be killed, targeted, or attacked, but Orianna can and she can be very fragile. The ball offers extreme range but even more it offers the opportunity to control the battlefield.

Early in a game farming creep kills is paramount to generating experience and gold. Orianna’s ball is used to harass the enemy champions and keep them away from the line of skirmishing creeps, thereby starving them of experience and gold. Doing this I’m not using the ball at all for attacking creeps, I’m taking pot shots at the enemy champions, throwing the ball into the bushes, and generally being as annoying as possible.

Later in game comes the team fights. Gigantic melees where it’s almost impossible to know for sure where exactly the ball happens to be sitting. In these situations the ball is in its prime. Movement here is key. Throw the ball beyond the attacking champions, damaging along the way. Command: Protect to the melee ally that is running in, once again doing damage along the way. When battle is joined cast Dissonance, doing damage, slowing the enemy, and speeding allies.

Very rarely do I lead in killing blows, but Orianna is a fantastic support character. Playing her requires one to be hyper aware of the battlefield: where are your allies, where are the enemies, who is low on health and will casting Protect also net you some damage?

This all compares directly to combat in Guild Wars 2. When I started playing League of Legends I watched a tutorial video. If it weren’t for the commentator pausing and pointing out specific things I would have been completely lost. There are so many creatures on the screen and so many different effects going off that for the uninitiated it looks completely chaotic and unmanageable. Do these complaints sound familiar? They should. Remember this video:

When discussing this gem I heard a lot of concern about how chaotic everything looked. The skills going off demanded our attention and since we aren’t familiar enough with the gameplay it all looks like so much noise. This leaves me feeling hopeful. I had a similar reaction when I started playing LoL and now I revel in the fast-paced combat. Between the spare User Interface, the descriptive skill effects, and Orianna’s control the battlefield playstyle I feel like I’m in pre-Guild Wars 2 boot camp.

What have you been playing lately that you feel could be preparing you for combat in Guild Wars 2?

 

Morgan’s Ghost

Some more livestreaming this morning.  After attempting twice to draw a charr, I just started freestyling it and eveutally found what my monk would look like if she had gotten caught in the foefire. (she didn’t)

NYAN NYAN NYAN NYAN

With a lack of anything of substance to talk about, have a nyan-tiger. (Yes, that’s a porkchop for a body)

Ephemeral Drift And Impermanence

First off, if you missed my guest post over at Bio Break, please go check it out.  The topic he gave me was loads of fun and I had a blast writing it.  Yes, he was mistaken as to my gender, please don’t hamstorm him about it.  If you were all wondering though, I do have an about page and it does have a picture for proof. 😉

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I’m willing to bet that a majority of you reading this played with Legos as a child.  If you did not I’m sure you had some sort of building block toy, something which you used to make something else.

Children are creative, miraculously so.  A tragedy I have seen is a coworker who brought in her child’s paintings and instead of appreciating the simple chaotic beauty, she always asks “well, what is it?”  It just is, and isn’t that enough?

Beauty.

But beauty doesn’t last, and neither do the things we make.  From a sibling coming and destroying our carefully wrought lego landscape to the digital representation of hours of work disappearing into the ether when our favorite multiplayer game goes dark, we live in a world where the only constant is change.

I heard a story once about a tibetan monk who spent hours and days constructing a sand painting.  Shortly after completion a child came and began dancing across it, destroying the intricate design in moments.  Instead of being angry the monk simply smiled and remarked about the beauty and freedom of a child’s simple dance.

When gaming, particularly with games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, and Minecraft we develop a sense of ownership towards our creations and avatars.  When we step back, however, it’s obvious that these constructions are only so many ones and zeros and cannot (I would go so far as to say should not) exist forever.

I’m noticing this strongly right now when playing Minecraft.  It’s a game I prefer to play with friends.  What is the fun of building something fun and interesting without having friends to share it with?  However, this requires a server to either be hosted by a person on their machine or to pay for a professionally hosted server.  Inevitably people get bored, other responsibilities crop up, things change.

I have built many things, spent many hours, on things that are potentially gone forever.  I do not mourn their passing, however, because the joy was in the building and in the sharing with others.  Projects were completed and I am compelled to move on.  Like balloons released to the sky.

Right now I’m building a tower on a friend’s server.  Everyone is building a tower.  Eventually these will be pasted into a wall to make a castle built by everyone.  It’s a lot of fun and should be beautiful when it’s done.

Will it still be beautiful when the proverbial child comes dancing through and we scatter to other projects in other places?

Yes, I truly believe that.

BEE Good

or, failing that, stab your enemies in the face and then unload a whole clip of bees!

This morning I tried my first bit of livestreaming and I have to say, it was ridiculously simple.  Thanks everybody that came in to watch!

Here’s the sylvari thief I drew:

I shall name him Sough

And here’s my favorite part, the (soon-to-be) infamous Beegun:

ArenaNet, can we have a beegun pretty please with nectar and honey on top?

These two drawings illustrate something that’s actually pretty common.

Sometimes you have to draw an entire sylvari Thief just to realize what you really wanted to make was a gun that shoots angry bees.

PeltWatch 2.0

Since the ArenaNet Community Open House a whole bunch of juicy little tidbits have been percolating through the collective conscious of the Guild Wars 2 community.  It wasn’t until just today that a super sneak peek of the charr physical customization came to my attention.

Namely, this image:

Thanks bunches to Overlord from Guild Wars 2 Guru for pointing it out to me!

Of course, how could I not go squee over, not just some character customization, but a TIGER on screen!  Give me a moment here people….

I haz a happy

Okay, now, without further ado, I present to you: PeltWatch 2.0!

Some notes on my method:

  • All colors are my best guess as an approximation.
  • Color names are my own.
  • Colors were picked directly from the color selections available in the screenshot.
  • First the charr was cut out and then converted to greyscale.
  • Colors were then put on a layer above the greyscale version and set to either color, overlay, or multiply blending modes.
  • Almost all colors were tweaked after eyedropping the base color to get a match as close to the swatch as possible.