Tuesday, 23 June 2015

GW2 is dead, long live GW2HOT

Today's patch confirmed my worst fears. Up until now a lot of my negativity has been sort of gallows humour of the "wouldn't it be terrible if" variety. I was actually a bit excited when I logged in today. Not excitement of the "OMG I've devoured every morsel of information and can't wait to see it in action" variety, just general curiosity.

Now my (well documented) fears are confirmed. As a veteran player currently without interest in Heart of Thorns I don't want to relearn everything before I can enjoy the three basic game modes again. If I was sold on HoT and intended to head to Maguuma, then, yes, it would make it worthwhile but I'm not. Yes, the meta did need a shake up but that's all it needed. It didn't need demolishing and rebuilding. I was fully invested in GW2 and happily coasting along and all that's gone out the window.  I don't want to start over in GW2, it's just exhausting.

As a veteran player the message I get from ArenaNet today is "HoT or GTFO". And you know what? That's fine. It's a buy to play game. This is how you make money and move your player base onto your next expansion. It's great business. Games Workshop have been doing this for years. Their stated business model is to manufacture and sell miniatures and the best way for them to do that is by changing the rules constantly so you need to buy new models to get the most out of each new iteration. It's genius. Of course the internet doesn't think so but, hey, shareholders are happy.

Suddenly buy to play isn't looking like the panacea it did two and half years ago.

One of the main reasons I'm not sold on HoT (and this opinion I've discovered is shared by many others) is that all these new systems like Masteries and Specializations have been introduced but it's not clear what we're going to be doing with them. When HoT was announced CJ said this:
Now as Mo [Mike O'Brien] said earlier, the maps in the Heart of Maguuma are some of the richest, deepest content experiences that we have ever built in GW2. The game space is tremendous, the amount of space that you can play in, and the jungle is made up of three distinct biomes: The Core (the jungle floor itself), The Roots of the jungle that run deep beneath the jungle itself, and The Canopy, high above, where the remains of the Pact fleet are scattered across the top of the jungle. You're going to get to go and explore all of these areas, from the very depths, to the very top of the jungle, and as you explore, you'll find a secret that the last known good dragon, Glint, left hidden in the jungle for us, right as the story of Guild Wars 1 concluded. And now, hundreds of years later, we will go into the jungle, and find that secret, and find Glint's legacy.
Well, if that really is the case then, damn, they are saving the BEST for last announcements wise because so far I ain't seen NOTHIN' to back that up. I suspect the "content" we're going to see in HoT is going to be no more than 3 zones with lots of "verticality". I could be wrong. If I am wrong I'll be happy. If there is a variety of rich new experiences and zones to explore I might completely change my mind about all this. However, I and many others suspect it's simply Silverwastes in the jungle.

What I DO hope ArenaNet is doing is laying the ground work for all future expansions. That's what they said Heart of Thorns was: "a new framework for how an MMO can grow its universe." What concerns me is that in the 3 years since launch this is the 2nd big overhaul of traits and I wouldn't be surprised if we get to the next expansion and they have changed their mind again. From my experience of logging in today I don't think the new system is "simpler" than the previous one. I hate the fact I now have to unlock skills consecutively (I must have missed that announcement). Yes, it's more like other games but that was what made GW2 great, it wasn't like other games. When I logged on today I had traits equipped in slots where an actual trait I had been using wasn't selected. Whoever derived the logic for the "comparable build generator" is an idiot. Also, I hover over some traits and two boxes come up. I dunno what that means any more. Looking at this as yet another stab at revamping the NPE they've confused me, a veteran player. So, is this a fail right off the bat? Do we now need yet another iteration? Who decides?

May be that's the big question: who exactly is deciding the direction of Guild War 2? ArenaNet, NCSoft or the players? One thing is for sure, as the answer to that question becomes less clear, the worse it will be for the game.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Told you so? #GW2HoT #GW2

I dunno that I did, I just repeated what other people said. That's hardly a prediction. But, yes, GW2HoT is expandalone and current players are upset that they have to "buy" the core game again. Obviously you're not buying the core game since they have all but given away the last few months but still. This makes the most sense for ArenaNet as what they need is new players and this is the simplest introduction for them.

My 2nd "prediction" is that I said it wouldn't include a character slot. I didn't say that here but I had a heated argument in-game with someone about it. They got heated, not me.

As for pricing, well, I was eating my breakfast and it struck me as genius. If you buy Deluxe you would be an idiot not to buy Ultimate since the gem value more than covers the "additional" cost. In UK pricing the gems in Ultimate make it "cost" just £2.50 more than Standard. Since you get an £8 character slot plus extras for that £2.50 it's an amazing bargain. What that does mean though is that the £60 basic Deluxe pack is disgustingly over-priced and it's obviously been priced that way to make the upgrade to Ultimate more attractive. So, congrats on that one Anet/NCSoft!

So, which will I pre-order? Have you guessed? That's right! None of them!

Pre-ordering a game with no release date is an absolute mug's game. Oh, and testing their game for them is supposed to be a bonus? Yeah, you can stick that where the sun don't shine.

I was pretty sure that HoT wasn't a day one purchase for me, now I won't even think about it until it goes on sale.


Friday, 12 June 2015

Before MMOs: Part 1 of 2

I recently changed the title of this blog. My main motivation was to emphasis my advancing years in mitigation of my apparent grumpiness. I'm not unusually old for an MMO player, if you played vanilla WoW at 14 you're now 25. If you played in college, well, you're in your early thirties. I played my first MMO in 2007 when I was 29. At that point I felt like I was pretty late to the game. My younger brother got me into it and I dunno if I should even thank him.

For me MMOs scratched an itch that I'd forgotten I had. Somewhere around 1985 I had a day off school because I was sick and had to go shopping at Havant Hypermarket with my Mum. They had a small book section and in it I found a book called The Forest of Doom (also on Steam). I asked my Mum to buy it for me and she did. I don't remember my Mum buying us a lot of things on the spur of the moment and I have fond memories of this, so I guess it must have been to make me feel a bit better.

This was the first fantasy book I ever owned and my introduction to roleplaying. I absolutely cherished that book and if it ever magically reappeared in a loft somewhere I would be unspeakably delighted.

At some point in the not too distant future I came into possession of D&D 3rd edition and, although I don't think I ever played a sit down game of it more than twice, I just loved reading the monster and spell descriptions. I would also have been heavily influenced by the cartoon, which would have been on UK TV in the mid-80s. What I loved most about my D&D books was inventing and equipping characters with lots of magical gear I'd never earned. Around the same time I must have read the Dragonlance Trilogy. I'm happy to say I still have those original books and re-read the first two quite recently. Since I can't have been older than 10 I do remember having odd feelings regarding Tika and being a bit distressed when Riverwind buys it. That was probably the first graphic death scene I ever read.

I then went through a slightly traumatic period in my young life when my parents decided it would be a good idea for us to move house again. For some reason they decided we should change schools first and commute for a time. However, what's never been made clear to me is why we did this a third of the way into the school year. What makes it worse was that it was a hub school and took pupils from around ten smaller schools. If I had started a few months earlier I would have been in the same situation as everyone else. So, late 1988, I was 10 and completely restarting my social life. I remember it being very hard to make friends.

In the summer of 1989, I stumbled across a copy of White Dwarf in a local newsagent. I immediately found it fascinating and the first issue I bought was White Dwarf 115. Now, I know that's never going to resurface because I remember the day I threw them all away but it would be nice to be hold that bundle of paper and know that it changed the course of my hobby interest forever.

Issue 115 was important for several reasons. Firstly it had Heroquest on the cover and a Heroquest feature inside. Secondly, it had rules for additional weapons in Space Hulk (which I knew nothing of at that time). Thirdly, it had a 2 double page spreads on a new game called Space Marine, which promised epic battles from the Horus Heresy (so it was technically W30k) and with which I was, again, immediately fascinated. Lastly, it had a section on genestealers, a "race" that I remain a massive fan of even if it did get retconned into the Tyranid vanguard.

Since the thing I enjoyed most about D&D was reading the rules you can imagine what a mine of imagination and enjoyment White Dwarf became to me. Over that summer, I remember it being hot, I cleaned out several back issues they had still on the shelves and then started buying it on an almost weekly basis. On my 12 birthday, February 1990, my Dad drove me to Brighton for the day and he bought me Space Marine and some paints. Sadly, I remember my first time in a Games Workshop as being a terrifying experience. I remember the sales assistant trying to be really helpful and that terrifying me even more. I was hooked from there. At one point I had two lever-arch folders full of rulebooks (they punched them back then) and I couldn't fit the boxes under my bed any more. The games I didn't have my friends did and there was much borrowing and lending. However, by the Summer of 1993 my interest had dwindled greatly. I probably thought, having recently turned 15, that it was time to grow up a bit.

It's worth noting that during that period, I also got my first console, the Sega Mega Drive. And I think it was probably Christmas 1993 that I played Shining Force, I don't think I even went downstairs Christmas morning I was enjoying it so much. Yup, this is definitely a period where my interests were shifting.

So that was pretty much it for me and Games Workshop until Necromunda was released in 1995.  My brother, having reached 12 had finally grown into a hobby I was quickly growing out of and I have fond memories of playing with him while back on holidays from university. Necromunda was about gang warfare and we each had our own gang.

Then that really was it. For the next ten years I had little more than a passing interest in video games even. I guess I'll make that part 2.

Monday, 8 June 2015

I had a great holiday #GW2

...and didn't think about playing Guild Wars 2 once.

I did see the announcement about Ventari and was trying to work on some sort of "tree-hugging, hippy crap" joke but my heart wasn't in it.