Posts Tagged ‘ nostalgia ’

Of Bark And Grass

The sylvari redesign is finally here!

When I first learned that an entire race was being redesigned, my expectations were modest. I never thought they would be getting a drastic theme or form change. From what I saw of when Daniel Dociou was talking about it, I expected a distillation, a refinement of what the sylvari were. I wasn’t disappointed.

In the past I have bemoaned the lushness of the sylvari, of the grove, even the pale tree. I complained that, while jungle is all very nice, where were the other biomes? It irks me when thoughts of nature automatically equal wet and lush jungles, dripping with foliage. That is nature, yes, but so are the less-loved grasses and lichens and barks and succulents of colder and drier biomes.

In wishing for more grasses and a larger variety of flora, I was not vindicated. Don’t think for a second though that I’m complaining. My ideas, riots of plant life variety, were the path that the previous sylvari were on. Green-skinned girl picks leaves, twigs, moss, or grass for hair. Boring paste-on parts. The sylvari are not grasses, they are not moss and they are not frond or fern. They are the children of the pale tree. They are not some hodgepodge of different greenery, they are the sentient fruit of a single plant. This redesign brings the oneness of the sylvari into new clarity.

Don’t think for a second though that this oneness needs to equal a similar lack of customization. Plants are wonderfully varied, even within the same species. Take for example, the common pumpkin. Its species is Cucurbita Moschata. Now look at the pumpkins to the right. Every one of those is also a Cucurbita Moschata, all the same species. Even though they may look wildly different, they’re still quite obviously all pumpkins. Likewise will the sylvari be unique with different shapes, sizes, and colors, but all unmistakably children of the pale tree.

I feel compelled to note that, as an heirloom gardener myself, there are actually THOUSANDS of different cultivars of C. Moschata. Plants are really, really cool.

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. 😉

—————————————————–

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.

Dig A Little Deeper, Come A Little Closer

Said the dragon to the knight from the depths of its lair.

Let’s talk dungeons.

You all know I’m a former World of Warcraft player, an active raider even (why do I feel like I’m saying I’m a recovering alcoholic?). I played WoW because it was fun and I got to hang with my friends. A couple years ago, however, I played WoW because it was INSANELY fun and I got to conquer gods with my friends. (If you’re wondering though, this was my proudest moment, I was raid leader for that and we were still 25-strong.)

Anyway! Guild Wars is great, and Guild Wars 2 looks even more great. Even in the midst of my excited anticipation, however, there was still a part of me that mourned the passing of Tigerfeet the Raider. There’s something about talking with other people, adrenaline running high as everyone concentrates on performing to the best of their ability, failing, failing, and finally the rush of SUCCESS when the Big Bad of the moment finally falls. It’s the euphoria of accomplishment shared with friends.

Guild Wars Classic has this to a point, but the majority of the boss fights do not leave me feeling like I have accomplished something epic, though Dhuum at the end of the Underworld certainly comes close. The activity I’m missing can best be described as a carefully orchestrated dance to stay alive. WoW’s heavily scripted battles are often maligned as predictable and compared to a guided theme park experience.  I at least found them exceedingly fun.

My explorer was satisfied by wondering “What’s he going to do next”. My competitive side was satisfied when we finally worked through the difficulties and conquered the boss. Since these encounters were scripted, once we gained a little experience (practical experience, I’m not talking about arbitrary numbers attached to your character) we would take that knowledge back with us and try again, eventually becoming proficient enough individually and as a group to overcome the challenge.

While reading Jeff Grubb’s article I started smiling. (Two dungeon modes? Yes Please!) As I kept reading my smile broadened, (dynamic changes within the dungeon? Absolutely!) and when I reached the end and read about the massive scripted bossfights my smile broke into an enthusiastic grin. (HELL YES!) This is the challenge, the experience I’m looking for. This is the manner in which I want to catch Tyria in a headlock and wrestle her to the ground.

The dungeons also remind me of a point I’ve made about Guild Wars 2 in the past. For every amazing and revolutionary step forward ArenaNet takes (dynamic dungeon content), they offer in the other hand a treat of the ‘familiar’ for players of older MMOs (scripted boss battles).

It’s so easy to get angry and feel betrayed when a tried mechanic is implemented in a game that’s touted as being original and revolutionary, but please, think about it.  A game can be new and fresh without all of its parts needing to be so.  I can build a beautiful new wooden floor out of salvaged barn lumber, for example.

If ArenaNet were to turn away every idea and mechanic that had been used in games previously I truly believe that Guild Wars 2 would be less for it. I respect a company that can get excited about the new and unique things its doing while still being happy to offer more familiar mainstays when they work. And that’s exactly what ArenaNet is doing with the dungeons. As we say here in the Midwest, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Of course, a bit of spit shine polish doesn’t hurt.

Oh, Hello Ambassadors

Congratulations to all the winners.

For the rest of us might I suggest a trip through my archives?

And now for my next trick:

Model this in 3D. Goal: Be as awesome as possible

Not listed in my above (and very old) article, I also recommend art therapy.  To that end, Autodesk Sketchbook is a neat little program. (I’m running the trial)  It reminds me of Artrage if you’ve ever messed around with that.

My mother always told me I wore my heart on my sleeve.

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.

Guns, Roses, And The Importance Of Oink

This little piggy was a hero.

The sun was setting and with chests heaving we wiped our brows. For two hours previous we had been hauling and carting, wiring and coordinating. We turned down the lights and a clutch of CRT monitors buzzed to life. We checked to make sure all connections were strong before we left to procure much-needed provisions for the marathon to come.

Once we returned from the supermarket with various and sundry gamer eats in hand, we then settled down for the eagerly-awaited Guild Wars Beta Weekend.

There were only four of us, but that was just as well. Our only connection to the internet was through a single, four-port router. One of us had his desk, one had the kitchen table (to share with the vittles), and two more of us made our homes on the coffee table. One to take the couch and the other (myself) to make her home on a cushion curled with a 2-liter of mountain dew.

The sun hand gone down, the servers had come up, and we waited with baited breaths, staring intently at the tiny lightning bolt in the corners of our screens while the Guild Wars Beta client loaded.

We were set loose upon the world of a pre-searing Tyria. Initially we were dismayed by such a small group size, but eventually someone found the PvP mission. I have no idea if the Ascalon Academy mission is still Player versus Player, but back then it was.

You also had to win.

It took more than one try, but eventually we made it through and experienced the searing. Where once we frolicked among lush and verdent hamlets, now we fought tooth and nail through lands blasted by the charr, paradise reduced to rubble.

You might imagine that we battled through blasted Ascalon and across the frozen Shiverpeaks as a team, taking advantage of the fact that we played within mere feet of each other, but you’d be wrong. The college we were attending somtimes kept strange hours. It wasn’t uncommon to have a six hour class on Saturdays, for example. Needless to say, we soon became separated.

My husband (then no more than a friend who was loaning his apartment) reached it first. After hours of the desolate blasted Ascalon, and hours of the frigid shiverpeaks (it was March in northern latitudes, more snow was not what we wanted to see), he gazed at lush and tropical Kryta. We saw (staring yearningly over his shoulder) beautiful white sandy beaches, verdant ferns and palm trees, and the sparkling blue ocean.

He had reached the Gates of Kryta, and there he stayed. The Gates was not the first mission that needed six people, but it was the first real challenge we had encountered. He was unable to complete it on his own so he came back and helped the rest of us through Ascalon and the Shiverpeaks.

When we finally reached the Gates of Kryta we broke into song. We had no knowledge of the Maguuma jungle. After Ascalon and the Shiverpeaks Kryta looked plenty lush to us!

We were dutifully impressed. The four of us set forth with a new friend we had made (A battery necromancer (Well of Power) named Virgo Moon who we eventually named our first cat after) and some other random soul. In those days you only brought along henchmen if you were looking for a death sentence, and heroes did not yet exist.

That was also when we discovered the glory of Oink. Those days he made his home in the middle of the road and was impossible to miss. I have it on good authority that now he hangs out by a small farmstead just off the beaten path.

We absolutely loved Oink. Not only was he utterly hilarious, he was impervious to damage. More than once our bacon was saved by this brave little pig. If you have never gone through the Gates of Kryta mission with Oink at your side I urge you to take him along. He is necessary for the bonus mission, but he is also a stalwart companion who is always willing to offer a cheerful “Oink!” when you need it most.

Stay Awhile, and Listen

Ok Cain, shut your yap, wrong company. I don’t blog about Blizzard anymore!

No, I won’t pay for protection.

What?

You can’t be held responsible if Malygos torches my house? Huh?

Ok, ok, you know what?

*RAY OF JUDGEMENT*

Yeah, that’s right, I thought so. Now shoo.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Shaun over at I Love Guild Wars asked the question posed by Arenanet, “What’s your story?

The story of my coming to Guild Wars is similarly the story of my coming to WoW, my introduction into online gaming in the first place. You WoW players who would like to turn your nose up at Guild Wars and snort derisively that it calls itself an MMO should know that, without Guild Wars there would have been no Tigerfeet, there would have been no snazzy druid color charts, no nothin’. I would also probably live in Seattle and work at a more interesting job, but that’s neither here nor there.

With all stories, it’s best to begin at the beginning. And at this beginning, I was knock-down, drag-out, fish-got-nothin’-on-me, drunk.

It was my twenty-first birthday, I was allowed.

The next morning I enjoyed a couple of weak coconut-flavored drinks to help with the hangover, ate lots of bread and drank even more water. All things considered I wasn’t feeling all that bad. I then demanded that my boyfriend at the time drive me to the nearest Best Buy and go pre-order Guild Wars for me. (I waited in the car)

A friend at the party (incidentally my future husband) told me about this great new MMO that was coming out that wasn’t World of Warcraft. The most ardent fans of WoW at our school tended to be rather militant in their ardor and were most definitely not the kind of people I wanted to associate with.

So Guild Wars it was. The fact that we didn’t have to pay a monthly subscription to play was a definite bonus. If I have to pay full-price for a game I find it rediculous that I have to pay a subscription. If said game were split into online and offline components, the online being only for subscribers, well, I didn’t see a problem with that.

ANY-way. I was in the Guild Wars beta. Something kept us from February’s event (my birthday was on the first), so our first steps into Tyria happened in March of 2005. I remember weekend-long lan parties at my apartment or Mr. Tigerfeet’s where we never slept and raced through the storyline.

I remember finally making my way out of the blasted and war-torn Ascalon, through the snowy mountains, and into lush, tropical Kryta. Shouts and peals of joy would ring out when one of us made it that far and a loud, slightly drunken, chorus of “Welcome to the Jungle” would be sung.

The Beta Events were heady, raucus affairs. Every so often a little lightning-bolt would appear in the corner of our screens and we would squeal in delight. The game was updating as we played and soon we knew we would be asked to re-start and find sometimes small, sometimes large, changes to our playing experience.

I busied myself with scouring the countryside for mis-aligned geometry and artwork gone awry. Mr. Tigerfeet did what he always does, namely try to break everything, and our third friend, Resda Barimen, giggled maniaclly while he pranced around with his undead horde in tow.

During Beta we managed to scrape together enough cash to form a guild. We called ourselves Midnight Paradox [MnP] and had a blue eye on a black field with the obligatory red flames. (Didn’t everyone’s cape have flames back then?)

We tried our hands at PvP, even made it into the top 500 guilds once, but mostly we did our own thing. Eventually, through graduation and general life changes, we all drifted apart. I laid Guild Wars down for a number of years, popping on to check for birthday presents and not much else.

During this time I had a brief, but intense relationship with World of Warcraft where I discovered how truly wonderful a close-knit guild can be.

Since I left WoW (and incidentally my computer died) I’ve been whiling away the hours by working my monk (Morgan Ascot) through the Nightfall expansion and enjoying the Zaishen missions.

My favorite part of playing a monk was being needed. I am such a sucker for someone in need. Taking on more than I could handle in the face of my guild’s need was what eventually led to my downfall in WoW. As a monk in Guild Wars I could always find a group of people to play with, I was always welcome, and always needed.

As I look forward to Guild Wars 2 I find myself at a crossroads. Do I play some kind of heavy-hitting melee damage class? Or do I step into my old role of healer and support? I doubt I’ll know the answer to that question before I’m actually faced with it.

Never mind the fact that it’s rumored Guild Wars 2 won’t employ healers at all.

One thing you can count on is this space being All Charr All the Time. (except when it’s not)