Gamescom 2013 – Day 1

 Posted by on August 21, 2013  Community Gatherings, Conventions  Comments Off on Gamescom 2013 – Day 1
Aug 212013

Day one of gamescom is over! It’s been a good day with a couple of surprises on the show floor. I’m going to be doing a few game reviews based on what I saw today, covering Elder Scrolls Online, Project Spark, Beyond: Two Souls and Dragon’s Prophet. That’s going to take some time (maybe will have to wait until I get back) so I’m going to bridge the gap in the meantime with some of my pictures from today.

There were 2 things that struck me about the convention in general today.

  • There were more cosplayers than normal for the trade/media day. Lots of Assassin’s Creed cosplay, but I also saw a Lara Croft and various other anime cosplays I couldn’t place.
  • It was insanely busy. It seems non-media/trade visitors were allowed in from 2pm and the lines for some games shut 3 hours early as a result. I’m not overly happy about it (I travel especially for Wednesdays so I can get more done) and I’m worried how the booths will cope tomorrow.

Anyway, here’s some pictures!

PS: If anyone would like to use one of these in their blog or other publication, please get in contact with me through my About page and I’ll give you the unwatermarked high resolution pictures

Gamescom 2013 Preview

 Posted by on August 19, 2013  Community Gatherings, Conventions, Guild Wars 2, MMO Gaming  Comments Off on Gamescom 2013 Preview
Aug 192013

August rolls around again and that means it’s gamescom time!

I love gaming conventions. Not only are they a good way to get your hands on games you’re looking forward to and find new ones to get excited about, but they’re fantastic for dipping your toes in the water with new peripherals you’ve been considering. That’s before you get to the real reason I love the conventions – people. Wonderful people.

Gaming has broken into the mainstream of late but it’s still very hard to have a meaningful conversation about it with people you meet going through life, mostly because of platform divisions. Experiences of the same game differ wildly on different platforms and people play different games because of exclusivity. It ends up being quite difficult to talk to your neighbour who plays games because you don’t actually share that much in common experiences.

Conventions sweep all this away. You get the full spectrum of geeky awesomeness; cosplay to esports, board games to virtual reality and everything in between. gamescom turns Cologne into a gamer’s paradise for a few days (there’s stuff going on in the streets after hours), and 270,000 people flock to that paradise. With that many people, it’s easy to find people who are just as passionate as you are about your gaming niche.

I’m going to be going to gamescom on Wednesday (I’m trade, not press), Thursday and Friday. Thursday is turning out to be the big meet and greet day but if you happen to see me around on any day feel to grab me and say hi, even if I’m waiting in a queue (I changed my twitter avatar so I’m a little more recognisable). Please don’t be surprised if I don’t recognise you without your handle and/or avatar picture, I’m terrible with names and far better with locations. So saying something like “I’m blah from Twitter” is going to jog my memory a lot more.

This year is going to be a bit thinner on the ground for MYSTies than other years, but I’m going over with my husband Somnium and my friend and deputy guild leader Andypanda, who has his reporting hat on for Split Infinity Radio (check out their coverage). We’re going to be meeting up with a few of our German guildies there too, which should lead to fun times. Add to that the parties and it’s going to be a great few days (providing I shake off this cold). I’m also going to be meeting up with a few people from the Guild Wars 2 universe, like Paeroka and Bookahnerk from Nerdy Bookahs, Screenager from Afterlife Gaming and hopefully many others from the Twitterverse and I Can Outtweet A Centaur [TWIT].

And of course there’s the games. I’m looking forward to having a snoop around the MMO market, especially seeing how Elder Scrolls Online is doing, having a look at some of the smaller developers and trying to get freebies from Valve. Also I really hope to get some hands on time with Watchdogs, which is one of the games I’m mostly looking forward to for the rest of the year.

Hope to see some of you in Germany!

Hampton Court Palace

 Posted by on August 15, 2013  Personal, Photography  Comments Off on Hampton Court Palace
Aug 152013

Bit of a break from my usual fare now to talk about a gem I visited at the weekend; Hampton Court Palace. Originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and passed to King Henry VIII when he fell out of favour with the King, it’s one of only two royal palaces owned by King Henry VIII remaining. When it came into his possession King Henry enlarged it considerably, as did later monarchs, but hasn’t been inhabited by the British Royal Family since the 18th Century.

There are a few things that fascinate me about this palace, much related to the King who made his mark on it. Henry is famous for having six wives and having established the Church of England in the process of divorcing his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, but he also cultivated the image of a Renaissance man. His court was a centre of scholarly and artistic innovation and was one of excess. Henry himself could read and write English, French and Latin, play the lute and organ, sing well and sight read music. He’s also said to have been an excellent sportsman and favoured jousting, hunting and real tennis (which differs from tennis we know today), until a riding accident while jousting in 1536 forced him out of action. For Henry sport was not just about passing time; it was about politics as well, enhancing his athletic royal image to impressing foreign rulers.

Hampton Court Palace reflects these many aspects of the man. His different wives were by his side at different phases of his transformation of Hampton Court Palace and their impact is visible in the building itself; from Anne Boleyn’s gate (which was still being made when she was executed) to Jane Seymour’s heraldic badge on the ceiling of the Great Waiting Room. Likewise status symbols are everywhere. Guests are invited to compare Henry to the great Roman leaders through their busts on the outside of the Palace (Tiberius and Nero are either side of the main Gatehouse). The grandeur of the Great Hall itself was there to impress the importance of the King and Henry is said to have been so impatient to have it finished that the masons were compelled to work by candlelight. Likewise the kitchen required to support his court of up to 1000 people were massive, especially considering Henry and his guests ate a diet of 75% meat, hand roasted on a spit.

And there are marks of Henry’s sportsmanship too. The  real tennis courts remain, but all only one of the five towers that Henry built to watch the activities in the tiltyard remain. Likewise all the Tudor bowling alleys have disappeared, although evidence for their size and position was found in a Time Team Special. All in all, Hampton Court Palace is a medieval show of the power of one man; King of England, France and Lord of Ireland.

Perhaps what makes this place even more special is that much of the remaining green space in London is thanks to Henry’s determination to impress and preserve his wealth and power for his son Edward and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth. Hyde Park, St James Park and Regent Park were all appropriated by Henry at the same time he took control of Hampton Court Palace and remain some of the few open green spaces in the heart of the capitol.

But anyway, enough of me rambling. Have a look at some of the pictures I took.

Aug 122013

As I’m not one to dwell on the negative too long (although partial to revisit it frequently), I’m going to take a cue from the Guild Wars 2 Twitter account and share with you my top tips for Guild Wars 2.

Dodge, interrupt and mitigate

Relying on someone else to heal you is a great way to waste a lot of money on repairs, but most of your means of staying alive is in how you move rather than the skills you have. Relying on your healing skill will only help you til around level 35 and then you’ll be expected to dodge certain attacks. Practice until you get your timing right (the Daily Dodger achievement is good for this) on ranged enemies, and you can get out of circles most of the time.

Your other tools rely in stopping enemies from completing their attacks and from mitigating the damage from them. Interrupts (skills that daze, stun and knockback) are great for this, as are boons like Aegis, Protection, Regeneration and Vigor. Retaliation is useful too. Boons are something many new players overlook but they can make a huge difference to your fights and are one of the reasons why Guardians are loved so much.

Keep moving, rebind your keyboard shortcuts and stop clicking

You will swear at first and thank me later. WASD is evil, especially in a game like Guild Wars 2. Not that I’m knocking the keys themselves, but rather the actions bound to them by default. Every second you are stood still is a second you are making an enemy’s life easier and all that A and D do is hold you still while you turn. So do yourself a favour, rebind the strafe actions (Q and E) to A and D and enjoy not having to repair as much. This also has the added benefit of freeing up keys around where your left hand resides and one of my protips for any game is to not click your skills. Ever.


It takes a bit of shuffling to do but it’s totally possible to never click a skill again. By leaving 1-5 as weapon skills, using the reclaimed q and e for skill 6 and 7, and then making use of r, f and v to fill out the keyboard, you’ve got all the skills you need without moving your left hand much. Of course rebinding F means you need to find a new home for the “do everything” button, which I’ve found as G. And that’s meant moving all those dialog screens (guild, hero, friends, scoreboard etc) to the numberpad keys where they can be used when I’m not facing down someone who wants me dead. If that’s left you a bit bamboozled, here’s my keyboard layout in more detail. Use this as a base to work out what works for you rather than adopting it blindly, keyboards and hands vary wildly!

Be under no illusion that changing is hard and this takes a while to set up. But I can say I’m a better player for making this changes and I’m pretty sure you will be too.

Be curious…

Look at that view!

Look at that view!

…about what’s around the corner and about people. Guild Wars 2 is definitely a game for explorers and curious folks, who will be well rewarded for having a “what’s up there?” mentality. Racing to the finish will not help. In fact, you’ll be able to do more things by exploring.

Take Screenshots and Look Up

This kinda ties in with being curious. Tyria is beautiful and getting a bit of height can give wonderful screenshots. To get your character out of the picture, try using the /sleep emote. Likewise the skies and ceilings in Tyria are amazing. Look up frequently.

Get involved

The community for Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 is (mostly) wonderful. People are friendly, creative and encouraging to be around, with a varied background of talents and hobbies. If you’ve ever wanted to try writing, there’s a plethora of bloggers around to help you get started and improve your writing style. Likewise for artists and musicians. Programmers get the full support of the API community too. All in all, if you’ve wanted to make something in your spare time, this is a great subject matter for finding like-minded people to help you.

For those who like talking face to face, there are lots of opportunities at gaming conventions to talk to other fans. One of which is next week at gamescom!


This is Infinite Light. It’s a named exotic, not a legendary.

You don’t need a legendary

No really, you don’t. Legendary weapons are nice if you like their look but don’t feel you need one to be cool. There are loads of named exotics out there that look awesome and are just as hard to get. Several are much easier. Same goes with armor; unless you’re a fractals regular, you don’t need Ascended gear and shouldn’t feel like you need it to be a good player. Guild Wars 2 is about your skill, not how awesome your torch is (though that’s important too!).

Join a guild that does missions

Guild puzzles and guild rushes are great content that shouldn’t be ignored because they involve finding a guild. Both require cooperation between players and can even be fun if you fail. If you’re not up to the challenge of finding a big enough guild to do this, consider finding a public run on your server. The official forums and Reddit can be good for this.


Those are my top tips for getting the most out of Guild Wars 2. What are yours?

Aug 062013

This post is a follow up to Cutthroat Politics – True Colours Revealed

Shortly after I tweeted about my post last night I was contacted by someone from ArenaNet asking if I had screenshots that had names on the comments. I did and have passed them on so that the parties involved can be reported appropriately.

Some commenters on my original post feel my stance on this is over-reacting, but way back before Guild Wars 2 released there was this post (I’m sure there were 2 but I can’t find the other one) that outlined ArenaNet’s philosophy towards community.

Our ultimate goal is to create an environment that is respectful, welcoming, inclusive and friendly. We want to create a global community where people will feel at home, and an environment that will foster both creativity and collaboration.

The main goal is to be inclusive, not exclusive, to encourage collaboration between communities, and to generate an atmosphere that is helpful, friendly, and above all, respectful.  There is an unfortunate tendency in some online communities to encourage behavior that is detrimental to the fun of a lot of players by allowing a rather toxic and unwelcoming atmosphere. We want to set a new standard and make the Guild Wars 2 community a mature, friendly, helpful and inclusive one that is recognized throughout the industry as being so.  With that goal, we will ensure that both our game and our forums reflect our standards, and we will evaluate our support for communities based on the standards they enforce upon themselves. – Martin Kerstein

Bans following release backed this philosophy up. As does the Code of Conduct for the game (esp. 1 and 12). I don’t consider the behaviour exhibited yesterday to be inclusive or welcoming and I’m glad that ArenaNet share this viewpoint. One comment, idiots happen. Two, eh, report and move on. But that many… nope, not welcoming at all. So thank you folks at ArenaNet for tidying up your corner of the internet playground. Lets have the fun without the bullies.

Soon after all that happened, my tweet was retweeted by the Guild Wars 2 twitter account, which was a brave thing to do considering the controversial nature of what was being discussed and highlights their stance towards this behaviour. I don’t have figures as to how much traffic my site has had, but my original tweet been retweeted 36 times. Thank you to everyone who retweeted and favourited it.

I also received over 30 comments on that post within 20 hours, from the entire spectrum of possible responses. I’ve closed them now because I didn’t really feel like the discussion was going anywhere. Hardly surprising considering the horrible comment formatting and that this is not a forum. Also, the kind of comments that were being exchanged were just winding people up, which cements views rather than changing them. I will thank those who commented, regardless of your stance, for taking the time and effort to do so. You’ve highlighted the support that already exists and the need to keep on making gaming a more open and accepting place.

Maintaining perspective with these incidents is important. There are far more horrible and shocking things going on along this vein every day and these three stories in the last 48 hours are just the tip of the iceberg. But I don’t consider that a reason to let the minor things slip. I expect more from my fellow human and you should too.

As for this particular incident, well I’m done. It’s in the hands of the people who can do something about it. Time to move on and fill all this bank space I seem to have with more stuff!