10 years of Guild Wars

 Posted by on April 29, 2015  Guild Wars, MMO Gaming  Comments Off on 10 years of Guild Wars
Apr 292015
 

There aren’t many big online games that can boast a 10 year anniversary. Yesterday Guild Wars passed that milestone. It’s a major milestone and as a veteran player, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk down memory lane.

First impressions

I used to think Ranger/Ele was a good idea

I used to think Ranger/Ele was a good idea…

I started playing in September 2005 whilst at university and Guild Wars was the first MMO I ever played. After cutting my teeth in pre-searing and getting used to the small number of real people there, I graduated my ranger and walked into Ascalon City.

To this day I can remember being floored by the sheer number of player characters in that city. There were so many people with their own lives and stories to tell, so many trade and chat messages going past, I felt overwhelmed and awed by how alive this virtual world was. And emotionally drained by the ruined state of the beautiful city that was in pre-searing.

More than anything, I think it is this awe that has steered my fascination with online communities.

Dramas

Every game has its dramas, which I view as somewhat necessary in making an online game engaging. Guild Wars had a few of them over the years, ranging from the Thunderhead Keep monk strike of 2006 (player monks refused to help suicidal wammos through the mission), the cancellation of the Utopia campaign and the Hall of Monuments debacle (it was originally to be character based and players weren’t happy).

These and other hot topics would roll around every couple of weeks and forum would blow up with pitchforks and torches. After a few of these happen and the servers don’t get turned off, you pay less and less attention to the cries of “this game is dying”, roll your eyes and keep going. But heck, sometimes it’s fun to eat popcorn and watch people argue about pixels, and other times there are genuinely interesting debates to be had.

For the most part, ArenaNet did a good job of gathering player feedback where it was needed and channelling it into changes into the game. Utopia was cancelled for good reasons and it looks like some of it may turn up in Heart of Thorns. The Hall of Monuments was changed to be account bound. And the wammos finally learnt that not all monks are superheroes!

People

MYST during the 2008 Dragon Festival

MYST during the 2008 Dragon Festival

The Guild Wars games are full of fantastically kind, supportive and helpful people. I’ve met so many friends, collaborators and acquaintances through playing and participating in community activities that I’ve lost count. Heck, I even met my husband in Kamadan in 2007.

I think one of the main factors that made Guild Wars so good for finding likeminded people was that there were no great rewards (in PvE at least) for being optimal, people weren’t forced together and yet when they did join up, perseverance was rewarded. Doing a mission that takes 40 minutes or more forces you to work through the problems you encounter 30 minutes in rather than bailing. And if you weren’t in the mood for people, the heroes and henchmen were there to get your back. Like Guild Wars 2, the competition between players for resources simply wasn’t there. That puts everyone in a great frame of mind, and increases the likelihood of finding someone fun to play with.

Passion and Inspiration

Getting involved in something like Guild Wars to the extent I did seeps into every part of your life. Over the years I’ve treated the game as an excuse to learn new skills and open doors into new experiences I might not have had.

For example, the skills I’ve learnt as a guild leader since 2006 are now frequently used in my job as a manager. It’s remarkable how transferrable organisational skills, empathy and diplomacy can be. I’ve used inspiration for modifications to open source platforms to solve in game problems to help me learn new programming languages. And with the help of a Guild Wars radio show, I (mostly) overcame my fear of public speaking. Not too shabby for a hobby some still consider a waste of time!

Crazy targets

So the final point I want to hit on is the insane goals I set for myself in games after the major milestones are hit.

I had a couple of goes at the Survivor Title (obtain 1,337,000 xp without incurring a single death) before getting it, and then I could pretty consistently get it. So I thought… why not just keep going and see how high that number can go. The answer is, well, this:

Legendary

I ended up dying somewhere really stupid and kicked myself about it a lot at the time!

The final crazy thing I did in Guild Wars was completely max out storage. This took me about a year to complete. The rubies and sapphires were the worst bit.

Thats a lot of cash

If this post has made you want to jump back into the game, the 10th Anniversary festival is currently underway until May 6th! Hop in and have some fun.

Echoes of the Past

 Posted by on January 11, 2013  Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2  2 Responses »
Jan 112013
 

On New Year’s Day, a few of us from MYST (my guild) went back to Guild Wars 1 for a bit of a wander down memory lane. We elected to do Frostmaw’s Burrows; a 5 level dungeon in the north of the Far Shiverpeaks – accompanied by norn, the human adventurers face giant wurms, crystal hydra, element switching drakes and flying incubus that are determined to knock down their foes at every opportunity.

It turns out the memory of the game was rosier than the experience and it’s amazing how quickly we’ve all adapted to Guild Wars 2. Pressing F to try to interact, 1 to start the auto attack and double tap to dodge; all things we now do automatically in Guild Wars 2 that have no meaning in Guild Wars 1. Things got better when I added F to the list of accepted shortcuts for actions normally reserved for the spacebar, but that only happened after half an hour of swearing. By the end of the dungeon, things had mostly returned to normal, though I wouldn’t have called my playing abilities anywhere near up to par with where they used to be.

It isn’t just the combat either. The dungeon names were little more than a shadow of a memory, and Olafstead and Sifhalla had mentally changed locations when trying to head to the dungeon itself. Even the appropriate action for rare weapons had faded. After receiving a hammer as a drop from a locked Chest I found myself about to salvage it in hope of some ectos, before remembering it was the wrong game. D’oh.

After stepping away from the game for a while and returning, I’ve started seeing Guild Wars in a new light. While there are still lots of features I want to see implemented in Guild Wars 2 (guild halls and the ability to meet up with people on different servers top that list), there’s also a number of improvements that I’m thankful for in the new game. Not being able to dodge was surprisingly frustrating and ground targeted effects seemed an obvious omission. It was odd and illogical to not be able to send crafting materials to the bank instantly and remembering that the only way to sell things to other player was to stand in a town and shout for hours. Guild Wars ruined other MMOs for me, making them seem illogical and frustrating, and Guild Wars 2 has done that again.

One thing that was stunning from our evening in the old Tyria was how quiet it had become. There was only one European English district for the round of Dwayna vs Grenth we dropped in on. And we were incredibly sad to see no one in any of the districts for the Luxon side of Alliance Battles. At all. In any of the districts on any of the servers. Good thing we have WvW.

I can’t help but feel sad at how quickly 7 years of gaming has faded. We’ll almost certainly be back in Guild Wars 1 another time for fun that doesn’t require exactly 5 people, but it doesn’t feel like home anymore. That Tyria is preserved in the droplets of history in Guild Wars 2 now; rose tinted echoes of past struggles and encounters. Perhaps they’re best left that way as we forge new memories.

A Few Videos

 Posted by on July 10, 2012  Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, Personal  Comments Off on A Few Videos
Jul 102012
 

One of the aspects of being a guild leader I take pretty seriously is that of documenting the history and highlights of our guild to review at a later date. This post is about sharing some of the videos I’ve made in that capacity. I’ve amassed over 160Gb of compressed footage of the guild’s shenanigans in Guild Wars, and over 35Gb so far in Guild Wars 2 – I hate to think what it’ll be like post release.

Our Second Birthday Party

To celebrate our second birthday, we threw a PvP event together where teams would battle it out in various guild halls in a tournament style for a variety of prizes. The spin was that each team would comprise of 2 humans and 6 heroes.

Guild Wars Memories

Made in 2009, this video marks the start of the decline in our activity in Guild Wars to more diverse gaming base. Part trip down memory lane, part music video, this video incorporates material that was recorded way back in 2006, shortly after the guild was founded.

Beta Weekend 1 Finale

Moving on to Guild Wars 2, this video is probably of interest to very few. It’s long (over an hour) and is just the raw footage I shot during the finale event. Not overly thrilling but maybe of interest to a few people out there who didn’t get to experience the Champion Black Moa.

Beta Weekend 2 Finale

All 3 minutes of the finale we got to experience on Lakeside County.

Stress Test 2 Finale

This one contains audio from our Ventrilo as the entire guild turns on each other during the finale event. A few great shots of the Shatterer and the revelation that one of the guild has never seen Star Wars… (Contains NSFW audio)

If you want to stay up to date on the videos that we publish, you can subscribe to our channel. You’ll also find a few more videos there.

Mar 082012
 

Nope I haven’t quite disappeared. I’ve been lurking in the background, half keeping an eye on Guild Wars 2 stuff, half trying desperately to juggle real life stuff. The job is hectic, the guild has sprung back into life, and to top it all off I’ve exceeded my download limit for the month watching Guild Wars 2 videos. Anyway, here’s a selection of the random thoughts that have been bouncing through my head of late.

Hot topic of the month has to be trait refunding, if it’s good or bad, disruptive to gameplay or a good way of making choices matter. I don’t wish to weigh in with my opinions on this matter (mostly because for once I don’t have one) but I do want to remind people that attribute points were not always freely re-distributable in Guild Wars. From launch to September 05, the concept of Attribute Refund points existed which players gained through gaining xp or completing missions – each point allowed you to decrease an attribute by 1 point. Increasing an attribute was free. It was hard work to reassign your points and I’m told by those who were playing at the time, a pain in the backside. The point is this – even fundamental stuff can and will be changed after launch.

So what about those things I was looking for before the floodgates opened? The ranger’s pet seems to have improved in it’s performance but seems quite squishy. I’ve seen quite a few videos of people running around with their pets dead which to me indicates that either people don’t immediately see the value in the pet or it dies so often it’s less hassle to leave it dead. I do like that even while dead it still follows it’s owner around though – very nice touch.

Mesmers I’m still not convinced about. Illusions and clones are looking less exciting than the first glance indicated and there seems to be a lot of emphasis on them. I’d have preferred to see more of the other skills. But all the footage needs to be taken with the pile of salt that is new players and early game.

Guilds… oh my what’s not to love. So many options. I can’t quite express how much more elegant the influence & building system is than guild hall upgrades. Activity brings more benefits which brings more activity. I also like that the benefits are so varied, including options for parties. I’m also delighted with the server system providing home servers and the concept of visiting – it’s a better but not overly dissimilar solution to one I proposed nearly a year ago. It elegantly provides the flexibility to play with everyone while giving WvW a sense of meaning.

Speaking of which, I’ve been pretty disappointed with the footage of WvW we’ve seen. I think it’s because the maps weren’t overly full but I haven’t been able to get a good sense of what it is like to play in WvW. The keeps and castles look amazing though and I can’t wait to give it a go myself.

Course we have no idea when that will be yet but I did join the million other people who signed up for the beta. Fingers crossed!

The Monk That Grenth Forgot – Part 3

 Posted by on February 6, 2012  Guild Wars, Personal  Comments Off on The Monk That Grenth Forgot – Part 3
Feb 062012
 

This post is a follow on from The Monk That Grenth Forgot – Part 2 and Part 1

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about what I’ve been up to in Guild Wars and figured it was time to rectify that issue. 7 months ago I was making progress on my mental self-set challenge of trying to achieve God Walking Amongst Mere Mortals on a character that had accumulated 0 deaths, and was sat at 14/30 titles. Over those months, I have dipped in and out of playing Guild Wars itself. Mostly, not playing it in fact. Partly because I was doing real world things like revamping my guild’s website in preparation for Guild Wars 2 and dealing with being promoted, but mostly because when I did have time to play games others were more appealing. I don’t see it as anything that Guild Wars did wrong, just something that happens when you’ve been playing the same game for 6 years and trodden the same mud over and over again.

Some time in December, I picked up the game again and started regularly logging in. During the holiday break, I decided to work a bit on my survivor character, loaded up the Zaishen vanquishes and bounties that would have been helpful and went for it. I did pretty well to be fair – a large chunk of reputation was gained in the Norn and Asuran titles, I’m now down to the last 5 or so vanquishes in Tyria, and the last 10 or so in Cantha. I made the mistake of trying to vanquish Nebo Terrace in Prophecies having started War in Kryta accidentally some time ago, and was surprised to find the extra mass of White Mantle and assorted bosses having cleared the entire rest of the area. Swearing occurred, and lots of it. Still, clearing that area went fine until I encountered masses of minions and after having to hot foot it a couple of times to save my bacon, decided that I’d have to take a specialised anti-minion build for that area.

I’ve always maintained through this entire challenge that anyone can get 30/30 without dying as long as they are patient, careful and attentive. I failed in all 3 categories while vanquishing Rhea’s Crater. I’d love to say I got stomped by some horrible combination of things outside my control, but in actuality I did the most stupid thing in the world. The heroes were taking down the final group of the vanquish and I went in search of the final piece of map to uncover in an area seemingly clear of enemies. As the vanquish completed animation flashed up on my screen, 3 Oni appeared near my monk. The heroes were out of range and I panicked. I could have protected myself, unflagged them and been fine. Instead I mashed a load of random buttons and watched my monk die. I should have known better, especially in Factions. And I broke my golden rules for the challenge.

So that’s where I’ve left my monk now. She’s still on 14/30 with 1 death and several titles close to completion, but I haven’t really decided what to do with her. I already have one GWAMM with Tasha, I got 50/50 in the HoM 10 days ago and am now in the process of gathering items of use to people building up their Hall for the inevitable panic when a firm release date does get announced for Guild Wars 2. Is it worth allowing myself the one relapse to complete the challenge, or is that it done? I’d love your input on this, so comment away.

Something else I realised the other day that’s been playing on my mind – when Guild Wars’ servers eventually do close down for the final time, I’ll lose the place I first met my husband back in 2007. Wonder if I can get a model made of Kamadan!