A Sincere Farewell

If any of you have been following me on Twitter, you’ve noticed that  I’ve been playing Black Desert Online and it’s really gripped me. I’ve fallen in love with it in the same way that I did with Guild Wars, LOTRO, and Guild Wars 2. I’m enraptured by its unique appeal to allow you to do a huge variety of activities.

With that being said, I have been posting less and less over the past year to the point that this blog is pretty much inactive. So with that, I want to give a huge thank you to a few people/groups.

First of all, thank you to Dragon Season for their support and contacts through the years. They have been (and still are) an astounding team who bring people together over the love for Guild Wars 2.

Secondly, a massive thank you to the people who have stuck through it with me over the years on Twitter. I made some massive changes in my career and life, and you have been amazingly encouraging. I couldn’t have done this without you.

Third, thank you to people like Rubi Bayer, Peter Fries, Bobby Stein, Mr. Barefoot Matthew,  Roy Cronacher, and many others who have shown love and support for the community of Guild Wars 2 (and continue to!).  There’s something that makes you feel special when you have a message or a tweet from one of them. People like this bridge the gap between the idea that ArenaNet is just a company, to the fact that it’s real people, passionately pouring into the game that they so love. These are only the first that come to my mind, but there are many others from ArenaNet who have also reached out, and I am forever thankful.

Fourthly, thank you to my wonderful wife, “Briony” for all of her support in my blogging, my gaming, and the stories that we’ve created together in Tyria. I love you, and couldn’t have done the blogging I did without you.

Fifth, thank you to ArenaNet for making an astounding game that held my attention and heart since its launch in 2012. I stopped playing only for about a month in that entire time. In hindsight, the sheer amount of hours that I’ve invested in this game really show how much it has meant to me.


During depression, anxiety, family challenges, career change, etc. Tyria has been there for me. So thank you ArenaNet. You’ve truly impacted my life through what you’ve created! I will forever find my way back into Tyria time to time, just as I do with LOTRO, because of how much it means to me. During the existence of this blog, ArenaNet highlighted it three times, posting it to Facebook and/or Twitter. It is a huge honour to have a company enjoy what you wrote so much that they would share it with their community.

Finally, thank you to all of you readers who have faithfully read and/or posted on my blog. Without you, all this time of writing wouldn’t have happened.

With my final words of this entire blog, I want to conclude with this:

Be good to one another, both in-game and out. Respect one another, both developers and gamers alike. Instead of tearing down, always build up. Together, make Tyria and/or any world, something greater than reality itself.

Things That Make Guild Wars 2 “Home”

My last three blog posts were specifically about the new expansion and both positive and negative things that it has brought to the game. Although I could add on some more on both sides, I think enough has been said on those.

Recently I’ve been playing a lot of different games to give myself a bit of a break. I’ve been playing:

  • Rift – In spite of a few newer P2W elements that were recently introduced, I’ve been playing around to get an older school MMO fix like other games I used to play.
  • Neverwinter – Even though those dang Astral Diamonds (a form of game currency) take forever and a day to get, and the shop is terribly overpriced.
  • LOTRO – Which is my old home and I have a hard time going back, as I didn’t like the direction once they hit Isengard. It’s pretty desolate now, sadly. I miss the world though, as well as Shadows of Angmar.
  • Final Fantasy X-2 HD – A game I absolutely adored in college, and still really love the dressphere system.
  • Pokemon Omega Ruby – Don’t get me started on my fanboy obsession with this game right now. I got a Mew. Over 15 years later and I finally have a Mew!!!

One thing in those first three really stuck out to me… there are elements that make me rather unhappy compared to Guild Wars 2 that, in spite of feeling a little bored with it as of late, still have set a certain standard in my mind that other games don’t seem to match.

GW2 Changed Things

  1. Gathering Materials
    • I get so sick and tired of running up to an ore node and having someone mine it… and then I get nothing. Guild Wars 2 made it disappointing when that happens in other games. I love being able to mind the same nodes as other people.
  2. Rezzing
    • Alright, in a lot of other games I have the option to rez people, but even in Rift I can’t just click a button and rez someone from a dead state. There’s something fulfilling about helping other people out and to be honest, I find that doing this has made me want to help others in every part of the game if I can.
  3. Quests
    • Ok, so I tell myself I’m going to read quest lines and immerse myself in other games. You know what? I don’t. I really don’t. I try time and time again, but I just can’t sit there and read pages upon pages of text that really doesn’t flavour anything. I’m sure there are other games that do it. LOTRO, I read almost everything I encountered because I genuinely loved the lore and the atmosphere of the game. Guild Wars 2, I find I’ll even stop and read little snippets here and there because I love it. Other MMOs, I just can’t bring myself to do it.
  4. Gear
    • So here I am, thinking that I’m annoyed with Ascended gear and acquiring all the crazy stats that are now available. I get bored of my setup and think “this is going to take forever.” I swap over to other games and realize that if I ever want to actually be useful, I need to raid for hours on end (I abhor raiding in most games, to be honest. It’s not my thing). Get gear, so I can get more gear, to get more gear, and constantly try to get more gear… for what purpose? Yeesh. I can grab exotics in Guild Wars 2 and still be good enough for almost everything in the game. Heck, they even made it possible to change my Ascended gear for a small investment.
    • On this topic, the only two things I could think of that should be changed would be the runes and sigils being unlockable instead of destroyed when you swap ascended, as well as WvW having a PvP Build setup instead of using your actual gear. After playing a few other games though? Wow. I’m spoiled. I’ve got it good.
  5. Exploration
    • The sheer amount of games that are focused on “go from point A to point B” is maddening to me. I love that I can openly explore, choose my own path, and fight my own way through Tyria. It’s exciting that to this day, I can choose what Vistas to see, what enemies to fight, and what part of the Shiverpeaks I want to explore. In many other games, I’m forced to go from point A to point B, collecting a series of quests that eventually turn into senseless clicking instead of immersing myself into an entire world. Even worse are those games where you literally cannot explore and you’re pretty much stuck on rails.

Some Thoughts of Thankfulness

In all honesty, I have a lot to be thankful for. Yes, I have some criticism of the state of Guild Wars 2, but I also have a lot of things I adore that keep me coming back, and are exactly why I call Tyria home. I’m pretty sure I’ll be on this ride for a *very* long time. So today, I feel very excited for what’s in store, and definitely still put my trust that they’ll figure out where they’re going. If there’s one thing I can respect and appreciate about ArenaNet, it’s that they’re always looking to improve on what they have. Do they always get it right? In my opinion, no, but I can immensely respect them for being willing to take risks and step out to do something creative with what they’ve made.

HoT Thoughts – Part 3: Elites and Love

The past month I’ve been writing about the story of Heart of Thorns, as well as the maps–two of the biggest things that HoT brought to the table. It was rather critical, because there are definitely a lot of areas that ArenaNet could work on that would help me enjoy their expansion better.

With that being said, I’m excited to finally share with you my thoughts of what I’ve been loving about Heart of Thorns!

Elite Specializations

One of the biggest changes that Heart of Thorns brought is the elite specializations. Every single one of them brought new things to the table (don’t shoot me yet for that statement). By now, many of you have played most of the elite specializations and have started to see how they change the base professions to at least some extent, so I’ll give some of my (very) brief thoughts on them all!


As someone who mained a Guardian for quite a long time, I was rather disappointed with Dragonhunter. Traps feel more like symbols all over in the sense that they’re stationary rings. I’m not convinced Guard needed this. The longbow? People have been asking for it since launch, and it can be quite powerful. I just find it doesn’t synergize as someone who was a straight up Hammer Guard. The more I played Dragonhunter, the more it seemed like DPS was the focus. Not a bad thing, but it just didn’t click. Since then, I’ve pretty much abandoned my Guardian.


Oh. My. Goodness. I adore this profession, but this brought something radically new to the table with Rangers. I know a lot of people would’ve loved to be able to get rid of their pet for bonuses, but I think ANet took a very interesting route. The Druid is quite possibly the best healer in a game where healing was pretty much useless as a whole. Since raids (which I won’t be touching on), a healing Druid is pretty much meta, and they offer a whole lot more group support than Rangers originally did. It brings something new to the table, for sure, but I also wonder if it makes Druid feel too much like its own new profession all together? Maybe this is a good thing?

Whatever way you lean, I personally find my Druid to be a blast, and the glyphs really give some extra flexibility in playstyle, even if you go DPS.


Ok, I know that I’ve complained on Twitter time and time again about how much I can’t click with Ele, in spite of maining it for an entire year, but let me say this… I FREAKING LOVE TEMPEST. I don’t know why. Those overloads, the Warhorn, and shouts, all give me a great sense that I’m more in control of my toon instead of mindlessly doing a rotation between elements. Right now I’m running a Fresh Air Tempest build, and I’m having way too much fun. The burst is amazing, the support/utility is somewhere between staff and focus, and it’s a fresh take on the Elementalist to me (see what I did there?).


I’m still figuring Reaper out, but I’m getting the picture more and more. I think the Necro needed this a lot. There’s some stability in there, there’s some great melee outside of dagger, and as someone who ran a Power Necro (Wells), I’ve finally put together a build that jumps off of that and makes me more of a beast in melee. I’ve duo’d champions with random players in Auric Basin, so that’s a great start with a profession that I always struggle to be good at, but still love.


I’ve enjoyed most of the elite specs. Heck, I actually really love playing the Daredevil. Dodging and dealing damage, the extra dodge, and the staff as a whole, all really click with how I play the game. The down side? It still doesn’t bring great utility to a group, and it’s still horribly selfish. It makes me wonder how Daredevils do in raids? I don’t really know many that main it.

The biggest issue people have (and I do as well), is that it feels like they took away things from the Acrobatics line that made us great at dodging, and then put it into the Daredevil. There were recently some changes to the Acrobatics line, but I haven’t delved into it much to see if it really helps.

Regardless of that little chip on my shoulder, I actually love how the Daredevil feels. It doesn’t seem to bring great team support still, but it’s a blast to play!


I’ve been looking forward to Scrapper. I played a Power Engi for quite a while there, and suddenly I find I’m not really figuring Scrapper out at all. Gyros seems underwhelming and while the hammer is fun to play, I find my Rifle is much more powerful and useful. To me, that’s an indication that I need more time spent into Scrapper. Does anyone have any advice or ideas on how to use their new weapon and utilities?


Alright, I’m not a Mesmer genius. I’m actually a Mesmer moron, but I try. My wife’s the one that adores Mesmer as well as Chronomancer. Alacrity radically changes a lot of things and gives greater group support to this profession. The wells are well-needed AoEs (look! I did it again!) that were sorely lacking outside of Shatters and Chaos Storm. I personally love the shield, although my wife barely uses it. As a whole, I find it adds on to what already existed for Mesmers and filled in the gap.


Fun. Chop chop. Slicey dicey. I don’t really play Warrior, but I’ve heard a few people say that conditions are now a little more viable with the Berserker, and Berserk adds another fun layer on to how Adrenaline is used. I don’t play Warrior enough to actually give any thoughts on what it does as a whole.


The Revenant

Alright, this is where I really want to get a bit more in-depth, other than a few opinions. Why? Because I main the new profession, the Revenant now. My Guardian has taken the back-seat and become a crafter, and I’ve been able to put some serious effort into building him up. I rolled him, and haven’t been happier. The Revenant has a unique set of weapons:


The Sword is my main go-to weapon. It used to simply be used for auto-attack which wasn’t very engaging and didn’t force you to use your profession mechanic (managing energy–sort of like the Rune Keeper of LOTRO’s class mechanic). The changes now force you to use 2 (Precision Strike) and to use 3 (Unrelenting Assault) very carefully. This is a positive thing.


The Mace is a condition-based weapon that deals Torment and Burning. Although it’s fun, it’s definitely underwhelmed by the Revenant’s sheer ability to tear through things with its Power and Ferocity stats.


The Staff is a support weapon. People have to get this through their heads very quickly. A lot of complaint at the beginning was how little damage it did (which they may have buffed at one point). It’s honestly my favourite weapon of all, considering it has a condition cleanse, CC control (they totally nerfed it though… at launch, you could tear through a Legendary Wyvern’s CC bar and break it with one attack), and a few other CC abilities. It also drops healing orbs with its auto-attack. Frankly, staff is my favourite weapon in the entire game and is a lot of fun!

Hammer (Ranged)

A hammer as a ranged weapon is one of the most amazing ideas ever. It feels hilariously awesome. They’ve recently attempted to fix 2 (Coalescence of Ruin) since it was critting for way too much and hitting way too many people, especially in PvP. It was over the top and needed a nerf. I do believe it still needs a few more tweaks though.

Axe (Off-hand)

Axe is also condition-focused and pairs well with Mace or Sword, depending on your build. Its 4 (Frigid Blitz) is amazing for shadowstepping and is very satisfying to use. Axe 5 (Temporal Rift) is fun to use, causes some Torment, and pulls foes into it (giving a CC side to it). I haven’t used Axe in a while for Shield (coming in a bit here) , but it’s definitely a fun go-to.

Sword (Off-hand)

Sword off-hand is ok, I suppose. The block on 4 doesn’t seem all that significant, and 5 (Grasping Shadow) is rather clunky and strange since it’s so single-targeted. I may play around with it again soon since I’ve been getting bored of my Shield.

Along with this, the Revenant also brings four Legendary “stances”:

  1. Ventari – A healing tablet you can move around, cleanse conditions, and destroy projectiles. It’s a little awkward because you have to constantly be moving your tablet around for healing and positioning, which is challenging in big boss fights. Regardless of that, it’s my favourite legend to run (even though I don’t ever use it since there are better options).
  2. Shiro – An assassin stance that is focused on quick attacks and movement, as well as a powerful CC with its elite (costing 50 out of your 100 max energy) called Jade Winds. I run this legend constantly, and for good reason.
  3. Mallyx – A strange condition-based legend that needs some tweaking, especially since some of its traits are still based on what it was before HoT’s release–taking lots of conditions on itself and creating conditions so you could spread them to others. Not much to say here.  Resistance is a great boon, but Mallyx needs some Dev love still.
  4. Jalis – Supposedly the tanking legend, Jalis has a few elements of healing, some condition removal, a taunt, damage mitigation, and

The Herald – Revenant’s Elite

The Herald brings in another level of power to the Revenant. Given that the Revenant was built with the Elite Spec in mind (compared to the other professions), I find that Herald is almost needed, and you feel gimped if you don’t run Herald. It brings a few things:

  1. Glint Legend – Facets that you activate like a signet but create new skills to use. Facets take energy to maintain and share boons to people around you. Using the next skill will cancel the boon-sharing ability of said facet and create an effect, such an AoE that burns and chills, or healing you for all damage done to you for a few seconds.
  2. Shield – The shield brings some interesting skills, but given the recent nerf to Crystal Hibernation (which blocks all damage and heals you periodically while you’re rooted and blocking), I’m finding it not as good anymore. I don’t really use the 4 on shield and honestly, I find myself using it more because I have the Flameseeker Prophecies (which, thematically, works so amazingly well together with Glint).
  3. Traits – The traits are pretty useful to any build, like increased damage per boon on you, gaining toughness for each point of upkeep you have (be careful if you’re in a raid), stun breaking nearby allies if you stun break, etc. I find as a whole, it’s a no-brainer and radically improves the Revenant.


HoT has brought quite a bit of content, but most of it has been gated in time or massive amounts of grinding. Thankfully, the Elite Specs are built in a way that are fairly accessible if you just start getting some hero challenges done in the HoT areas (which most aren’t as daunting as you’d think, and people have an incentive to help since they get rewarded daily for helping with a hero challenge). I would say that of all things, the elite specializations are the best thing Heart of Thorns has brought to Guild Wars 2. The problem? There is a sense of a power creep here, where those who are F2P or haven’t yet purchased HoT are going to notice that they’re underpowered in WvW and PvP.

I’d say as a whole that from these three blog posts that Heart of Thorns is both a success, and a struggle. They brought some amazing content with some serious blaring flaws. There are some great things that have been offered, but some areas that myself, as a gamer and consumer, am left longing for something more. Because of my time zone and work life, I’m not able to play how and when they want me to play.

I think overall, they’ve created a good base with the mastery system on where they can go. Hopefully, Heart of Thorns is a bold step in a direction they can tweak to work for the masses, and deliver us bigger and more engaging content than what HoT offered.

For now, I’ll play my Herald, finish my dailies, and cross my fingers for what Living Story 3 will do for the game as a whole.

Getting More Out of My Game

Last week I posted concerning the topic of “More,” and ended with the question: “Is it possible for me to simply be happy with what I have in Guild Wars 2?”

It’s interesting how we always want more and more content, but how often do we find ourselves being satisfied with what’s been given to us? Satisfaction in our gaming is a choice. I mean, we don’t always “click” with every single game or every single playstyle, but after a certain point we’re forced to either enjoy what’s offered to us, or not. I’ve hit this wall since having an 80 of every single profession where I felt like the game wasn’t worth playing anymore and I asked: “Why is this?”

One thing I mentioned last week was the whole concept of having the carrot dangled in front of us–as if we need this. I’d go so far to say that we should feel our intelligence is being insulted if we have to be told to have a specific goal in a game. Sure, it’s a beautiful thing to have a story crafted to guide us and engage us, but shouldn’t we find value in the journey itself? Once upon a time I played MMOs such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online where your goal for your character was maxing your stats, getting the best gear (that would always be updated and render your last gear obsolete), and running the same dungeons over and over. I remember in LOTRO’s Riders of Rohan expansion, finally getting all the top gear and feeling proud that I finally accomplished it. Actually, I got TWO sets for my Captain (one for healing and one for DPS), and then stepped away to play Guild Wars 2 for a bit. When I came back, it was all useless.

[…]shouldn’t we find value in the journey itself?

Yet this was the premise of every game I’ve played my whole life. Console RPGs, I’d get the best gear and hit max level and kick the living daylights out of the final boss. In WoW, I just wanted to get my character to max level (I played pre-Burning Crusade, which was pretty awesome back then). Guild Wars 1, I felt myself confused after I hit Lv.20 because it made no sense to me. It was all aesthetics. There was no carrot to chase, other than completing objectives that were set. Wasn’t this a good thing? Isn’t the intended direction of Guild Wars 2 exactly what I needed?

Yet I’ve been so conditioned.

Perhaps I’m being too idealistic, because as I noted in my last post, I tend to need that carrot. I love the idea of freedom and exploration, but when it all comes down to it I just get bored. Too much freedom and I feel like I’ve completed everything and move on.

Take the acclaimed Minecraft, for instance. It’s a purely sandbox game that’s based on discovery and exploration, learning more and more about what you’re capable of through different materials you gather and combine. It’s tremendously fun to play, but I get quite tired of it after a while. Why? The lack of the carrot.

In terms of Guild Wars 2, it became extremely clear that when I got all 80’s I felt like I had achieved everything. My completion of the game was tied to reaching “the end.” It’s where people fall flat on their faces and ask: “Now what? Where’s the end-game content?” To be honest, this is really hard reprogramming that ArenaNet has been trying to do. Instead, they’re moving into the concept of meaningful, horizontal progression that goes beyond fashion through their mastery system in Heart of Thorns.

Will this be enough of a carrot? Will progression in the mastery system be gained through multiple areas of the game? Will exploration and pure enjoyment of Tyria feed into this? I’m honestly not sure how this could be done well. Either you constantly dangle carrots, or you open up the sandbox. Is it possible to work somewhere in-between?

I know ArenaNet is trying to find a beautiful medium there, and I hope they achieve it. I think they’re on the right track, but it’s definitely taking some reconditioning of… well, me.

Maybe this blog post is ending without an answer. It’s more of a scattershot of thoughts based upon last week’s post. I guess I want to get more out of my game and I’m finding some ways. Do you have any suggestions on how to get more out of Guild Wars 2? Be sure to post your comments below. I’d love to read, and respond to, as many as possible!


As a disclaimer, I hope that you all take this with a grain of salt, realizing that I’m speaking more to myself about this than anybody else, so here goes…

I find that we, as people, are always dissatisfied. Lately I’ve been thinking about my posts on wondering what’s even happening with Heart of Thorns. I’m very thankful that a lot has been revealed so far about elite specializations and the specialization system as a whole, but I can’t help but still feeling dissatisfied. I try to log in and although I’ve had a bit of renewed excitement over my Guard by trying different weapon sets and builds in WvW (yet I keep going back to a Hammer + something Medi Guard for roaming), I still feel like things are lacking.

Being the introspective person I am, it’s got me wondering… what’s my issue with where things are at in Guild Wars 2 right now? Is it actually ArenaNet, or is it me? Am I entitled for wanting more content, even though they’ve released quite a bit over the years? (Yes, I stand by that) Am I wrong in feeling like I want more content now? It’s really hard to know. Everyone has an opinion on it, and I’m not sure if my expectations are a little too crazy.

Part of me really misses the Living Story updates because of the small “sandboxy” feel to it. Perhaps, I’m just impatient as a whole for Heart of Thorns to come out because of all that’s been promised?

As a whole, I feel restless with where we’re at, and part of that is the excitement for something fresh and new. It makes me wonder: “Are we ever really satisfied, as gamers?”

I mean, as soon as things are released these days, we begin asking about expansions or DLC before we even complete it. We push through to get as much as possible, consuming content like a swarm of locusts, and rarely stop to smell the roses and truly appreciate what the developers have done to create the game. Isn’t that what Guild Wars 2 was originally supposed to be about? The journey? Exploration? Discovery? Heck, even recently I discovered a beautiful location in the Grove I never knew existed:

gw364So why is it that I feel tired of Silverwastes, Dry Top, dungeons, making a legendary, etc? Probably because I have it in my mind that I need to chase the carrot. It’s been conditioned in my head by games my whole life. Better loot, more power, and more “stuff” for the sake of stuff.

Is this actually the way to enjoy things though? It’s like the rat race all over again. We push and push in real life to have more and more money so we can have more and more things so we can work harder to get the things we achieve to have more objects that’ll never make us feel happy because we’re constantly searching for something more and still feel like we’ve come up short because we haven’t savoured the journey. (That massive run-on sentence is very intentional…)

I’m really asking myself as to whether I’m going to enjoy what’s offered to me, or end up going crazy and getting sick of the game? If it’s a constant grind for gold and more “things,” then I’m going to lose interest. I think I need to step back and enjoy what has been created, whether it’s little things in Hoelbrak or hidden gems in Malchor’s Leap.

Ultimately, while I wait for Heart of Thorns to release, the biggest problem is me–I keep wanting more, but more always seems like too much work.

Is it possible for me to simply be happy with what I have in Guild Wars 2?


There you have it, people. Some random, unedited, free-writing from the brain things inside my head. Does it resonate with you? Have you asked that question about chasing the carrot at the end of the stick? Where are you at? Post your questions or comments below, because I’d love to hear from you!

Thoughts on the HoT Expansion

Many of us can look back to the day at PAX, whether we were there in person or on Twitch, and remember that rush of excitement when Heart of Thorns was released. I mean, we could easily see it coming with how they ended off the Living Story. Still, it was a moment that I’ll probably never forget. Then came that release trailer and the explanation of all the amazing things we’ll get to discover! Mastery system, specializations, a brand new class called the Revenant… all of these things built so much hype and excitement and then…

Well, it’s gone.

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m not a hyper-critical person. I generally don’t use my blog to vent frustration, and this blog post isn’t intended to be that at all. What I do want to spend a few moments highlighting is the reality of where we are today, and what I believe many players are feeling.

You see, it was all excitement and energy–the hype was real–until those words were spoken: “When it’s ready.”

Although that didn’t phase me much at first, I look back to that announcement and noticed a severe lack of direction. I honestly have taken the approach as “let’s show them lots of great stuff, build it up to be astounding, and then hope that rides us to when we can finally release it.” Frankly, I don’t think that’s a good approach at all. Guild Wars 2 is my favourite game, and I’m actually rather disappointed that ArenaNet has taken this route. No release date? Not even a release goal? No explanation as to what’s going to happen until then? Sure, we got a few minor festivals, but that hasn’t really done anything when they set the precedent of Living Story (which we know is done until Heart of Thorns).

On top of that, I notice the slow roll-out of purchasable things in the gem store to keep them going. I’m not against this at all, but for me it puts a bad taste in my mouth. I think this all could have been done better.

“Well, you’re complaining, so give some ideas on how it should have been better!” you might say. Well, I sort of have some.

You see, the reality is that I don’t work for ArenaNet and therefore, can’t really understand their situation. I also have never worked in the gaming industry. Heck, having a family member in the gaming industry has really opened my eyes as to what it looks like–nothing like I imagined. We often approach it from a sense of entitlement saying: “I’m the consumer! I deserve [insert thing here]” but sometimes it’s not that simple. Wait, actually, it’s almost never that simple. So yes, I understand that I don’t have the full picture. I’m just thinking…

  1. Expansions should never be announced without a projected release quarter.
    • Sure, this gives the challenge of being seen as having a “broken promise,” but people are going to have unrealistic expectations. Such is consumerism. Anytime you’re going to release something that’s game-changing, you need to at least have a projection for people to work with. Otherwise you end up with your players being disillusioned. Judging from many people I’ve encountered in-game, that’s growing at a rapid rate. At least, that’s been my experience.
  2. Be clear about your game plan.
    • This has been one of ArenaNet’s biggest challenges. When they tried to be clear, they felt they got bit, so they pulled back completely. I don’t think this was a smart move at all. I think they need to be clear about where they’re going from here. Even if they don’t give out a projected release date, they should at least say what they’re doing in-between. The problem is if they say “nothing,” then people will leave until the expansion. There’s due diligence that needs to be done on their part. At the moment, I’m left wondering if they even have a game plan until then, or if we’re just abandoned. The time between Living Story updates were painful enough, but we at least knew what would happen–we knew the game plan.
  3. Do small things to bring about a “freshness” in the game instead of “stagnancy.”
    • They’ve played around with quite a few things that used to be in the game as small updates. For instance, SAB was a huge hit among many (I’m highlighting that, in spite of the fact that I didn’t like it at all, most people did). Bring it back. Who cares if there’s nothing new? There’s an expansion coming. Is it possible to reactivate it? Well, I don’t work for ArenaNet but I would assume there is.
    • Perhaps starting another WvW Tournament would be an effective thing to keep things going for a bit?
    • Maybe even a few more basic “Festival” things that they’ve done before could work? I’m not sure how, as Dragon Bash had too much LS storyline in it to my understanding (I was absent during that time), and the Zephyrites are now grounded (no Labyrinthine Cliffs). Still, small things need to be done to keep people engaged when that was the premise of your game since near the beginning.

Now please hear me out. I’m not *complaining* per se. I’m simply pointing out that there are elements that I’m not pleased with, and I’m using this as a medium to hopefully open up some dialogue as to what people think could improve. I’m still committed to Guild Wars 2 and adore it. I’ve put lots of real cash into the game to support ArenaNet as I love what they’ve been doing. What I will say is that I don’t even look forward to logging in very often anymore, and that has a lot to do with the current approach–pure silence.

“When it’s ready.” <– That line right there? It needs to die. It feels rather insulting, to be honest. “Let’s give you lots of great stuff to look forward to, but you don’t know when you’ll ever get it.

Honestly, I was excited on that day for Heart of Thorns. Now? I honestly don’t feel like I care about it because I feel like it’ll never happen. I’m being shown snippets of stuff but none of it really feels complete. Yes, we got the Stronghold Beta (and I’m not a huge PvP guy, I’ll admit), and I think that was a very wise move on their part. Still, I think that things could have been done better.

The bottom line is that I hope ArenaNet starts communicating more openly and giving us something solid to work with. Why? Because I love Guild Wars 2, and I wholeheartedly want it to be even better than it already is!

What’re your thoughts on how the expansion has been handled so far? Post in the comments below and please, keep it respectful of others!

More Than a Game (on MMOs)

Winds of Change

After a very long month and a half, I’ve found myself in a brand new guild with some familiar faces, and a lot of changes having taken place. I refuse to go into detail, but there were some interpersonal conflicts between people that led me to get stuck in the middle of things. This was difficult.

…but it’s ‘just a game’…

I found myself on a path of being forced to choose between guilds, and it ate me up. I lost sleep; I didn’t feel like eating much (or ate way too much sugar!); I cried.

…but it’s ‘just a game’…

I’ve ended up in a situation where some people don’t talk to me now because I wanted to talk to some people still because hey, I choose who I’m friends with and I choose how I play my game. Still, now there are people I may never play with again (due to their own choice). These are people that I may not even get to say hi to anymore.

…but it’s ‘just a game’…

If you don’t get where I’m coming from on this, it’s that as much as I’ve tried to convince myself that Guild Wars 2 is just a game to me, it’s so much more than that. There are people I have on Facebook, on Steam, and some I even have on Skype. There are people that I’ve shared some pretty deep challenges with. Heck, last night I had someone share her life challenges with me on how they’ve just been given a really crappy hand in life the past year and a half, and I had the amazing opportunity to be a listening ear. Yes, Guild Wars 2 is a game, but what it facilitates is so much more.

Real tears were shed over people who were hurt.
Real pain was felt when I watched friendships be torn apart.
Real decisions were made when I had to figure out who was showing the most integrity, especially since I was told I would eventually be forced to make a choice.


This is not a game. The game creates the opportunity for real people, with real lives, real insecurities, and real hopes and dreams, all to come together to know each other and build into each other’s lives for the better.

So in spite of the pain and frustration I had felt, I’m happy with where things are moving when I’m online in Guild Wars 2. Is it perfect? No… but I’m thankful for the beautiful thing that ArenaNet has created for me–a medium to share greater love and greater care with more and more people throughout the world.

This is more than a game… this is an opportunity…

What have been your experiences of MMOs being more than a game? Share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear them!

Elitist or Elated?

So Happy Together

Many people will disagree, but I stand by the fact that I’ve had better experience with the community of Guild Wars 2 than I have had with any community in MMO gaming (other than LOTRO, before Free 2 Play). Still, there are always some things that make me step back, look, and shake my head.

One of these things was highlighted in a recent experience I had in WvW. Honestly, it was a strange experience that perhaps I misread, but I’ve seen it a few times. There were two tags running around in the particular borderlands and my wife and I, after roaming for a while, decided to run towards the tag who was taking a tower. We figured this would be a great opportunity to jump on some fun battles and capture some places for our world!

The first tag’s commander messaged us and honestly, in retrospect, they weren’t really rude (although I took it as rather rude at the time). They messaged us insisting we “join [guild tag] thx.” Frankly, I wasn’t impressed. I left them alone and we started roaming some more. Then we encountered another tag and thought: “Hey, this’ll be great.” Until we noticed it was another guild who seemed rather abrupt with us (without going into detail).

Finally, we swapped borderlands and saw repeatedly through map chat: “join Mumble on this channel, or gtfo.” I get it that people want to increase the world score; I understand that there’s a competitive element to this part of the game; I know that sometimes people can be overly insistent. Still, to angrily push that people join their channel or get lost? This is toxic.

Please note that this is not normally my experience! I usually love WvW and thoroughly enjoy it some days!

To be honest, an open Mumble, VoIP, or TS service to do WvW is an awesome idea and I wholeheartedly support. The issue is when it moves from the elation of the competition to an elitist atmosphere being created. Think of this from three angles:

1) The Newcomer

How does a person who’s brand new to the game get involved in WvW? If there’s an elitist attitude that’s pushed through, that’s going to isolate quite a few and stop them from getting involved. The thing is, WvW is a phenomenal opportunity to game with a little bit of a PvP environment, but with much less pressure to succeed. There’s often freedom and opportunity for somebody who has no clue how to play the game, to make lots of mistakes under the wing of those who are much more experienced. This is how I’ve learned a lot about the game.

Should we force (as opposed to encourage) others to join, use, or operate under a very specific set of rules, we’re going to miss out on new players that want to explore what WvW has to offer them. Once again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t encourage Mumble to be used, but with a ‘gtfo’ attitude we’re going to host a toxic community for anybody wanting to join.

A balance must be struck between competition & community.
2) The GW2 Player Who Fears PvP

I’m sensitive to this one, because I’m rather terrified by PvP. People say I do great, but I’m constantly feeling the pressure of not disappointing my team, especially if it’s a PuG of people (oh, how I adore Guild PvP nights!). WvW, being a great in-between of PvE and PvP offers less pressure. Because of my sensitivity to those who feel the same as me, I worry when the attitude is overly driven. Should we say: “oh whatever, who cares”? No. Definitely not. I want my world to succeed in WvW and be the top. Still, there is a balance that must be struck between competition and community, and WvW can make that difficult in the upper tiers.

3) The Experienced WvW Gamer

I know of many experienced WvWers (is that a word now?) who are insanely friendly and supportive. I can think of one guild in specific (who will remain nameless) that I get excited when I see them roaming. Often, they’ve allowed me to roam with their guild on and off, so long as I wasn’t getting in the way or being a jerk. Only once did they ask me to back down, and I listened immediately (all the while, I got carried away because we were all laughing so hard).

Still, there’s the reality that when high-achievers gather for a purpose, great things will happen–but at what expense? To have that out-of-left-field experience was pretty surprising, but I’ve been noticing it more and more the past few months. Sure, I get that guilds will do guild-only events in WvW and that’s great, but exclusivity on a grand-scale isn’t going to be healthy. Will we hit a point in our Guild Wars 2 community where those who are more experienced will push out those who are less experienced, all for the sake of victory? I’m not sure this is right. What’s the balance between the competition and the community? I’m not sure I have a real answer.

Elitist vs. Elated

I think it’s important that we recognize that in our passion for this amazing game that tends to bring us great joy and happiness (at least, it does for me), we don’t let our zeal become something that ruins the opportunity we have to continue building a better community. Elitism is never a healthy solution, but being competitive in a healthy manner can be. It’s all about respect. So Tyrians, let’s think outside ourselves and our passions to honestly think through the impact we have when we make ultimatums for others in their gaming. Perhaps this isn’t a solution, but it’s definitely something we ought to consider.

I guess it all comes down to remembering that, like drivers behind the wheel of a car, gamers behind the avatars are real people too.

And I Say to Myself… (Camera)

What a wonderful world…gw273So yesterday I received one of the most amazing announcements in the patch notes ever… First Person View! For the longest time, it would drive me crazy when I blogged that I always had to have my character in the shots. Even worse, I found I could never really get screenshots that made me want to make them my desktop. ArenaNet… you have changed that–radically. Today I took my first screenshot with First Person perspective (Field of View turned to about 4/5 of the way), and it was marvelous. I’ve always been amazed by the amount of beautiful things to see in Tyria, and now I feel like I’m going to be discovering them all over again, and in a whole new light. There are a few things I wanted to note: First Person View

  1. You have to enable this under your options. Very important to get you started!
  2. I highly suggest turning up the Field of View so that you get a better glance at everything. I find I can’t go all the way, as it makes me motion sick. Still, play around to find that sweet spot!

Adjust Camera to Character Height

  1. This is one of the most significant things I’ve had added to the game. It affects the next point I want to highlight. The great thing is that it lets you see more of what’s ahead of you and to your sides. Field of View will affect this, as will Vertical Position.
  2. You may find it takes a bit of getting used to, as it’s not consistent with each character (obviously, adjust it to your character’s height). At first, I felt like it made things seem like they used to be until…

Vertical Position Slider

  1. This slider was one of the biggest game-changers to me (and I’m still tweaking it). What I’ve found is that as you scroll your screen out, it’ll zoom more vertically instead of just straight out, allowing you to see the battlefield around you more effectively.
  2. Note, that the higher you put this, the harder it will be to see what’s behind you, so be sure to change your Field of View appropriately.

I know that’s just a very brief overview and doesn’t really give you much advice, but just be sure to play with it all and see what works best. My biggest issue was the Field of View being too high, thus making me motion sick. Ultimately, expect more beautiful screenshots (especially with having my new computer and playing GW2 on max settings) without having to see my sexy norn as often! Q: Have you tried playing with the new camera functions? What’s been your experience (positive or negative)? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Bonus Blog: Liebster Award Nomination!

Some of you may have heard of the Liebster Award. This is brand new to me (I haven’t been around the blogging world very long), and I think it’s a rather sweet concept. Sure, some may call it a “chain letter,” but I consider it more of an opportunity to make some people feel loved, as well as let you get to know me a bit better. Google the Liebster Award if you’d like, but I hope you enjoy the opportunity that I’m seizing here.

I was nominated by Urebril from the Ranzington Scouts. I’ve known him for just under a year now, and he’s been one of the greatest sources of encouragement online. So thank you for the nomination, my friend! He’s provided a list of 11 questions, and I hope you enjoy my answers to them. 😉

  1. If you had to start the last article you wrote over, what would you do differently?
    Interesting question… I think as my first blog back in a very long time, I probably would’ve put more energy into something that felt like fireworks were going off, and there would be trumpets sounding, heralding my return. Oh, and my friends over at Dragon Season would also be feeding me grapes and the like.

    No, seriously, I don’t think I’d change anything. To come back to blogging after a very challenging few months of my life, it’s exciting to return to the community. I stayed active on Twitter, and my followers have been the most loving, supportive people ever–this includes even many employees of ArenaNet. Thank you all for your love–it’s gotten me through.

  2. What is your favorite MMO? Why?
    Once upon a time I wouldn’t have been able to answer that. I’ve tried everything from LOTRO to WoW, and from Rift to SWTOR. Yet I’ve found an amazing home in Guild Wars 2. Why? 3 Reasons:

    a) The Community – To see so many people who are so supportive of one another, I believe Guild Wars 2 is more than a game. After some recent in-game conflict that had taken place between many friends, I was distraught. Finally, I realized that this is not “just a game” as some may say. No, this is a game with real people. The game seems much less progression-driven than most, which has fostered a beautiful community environment.

    b) Fashion Wars 2 – I love aesthetics. I have an entire category on my blog called “aesthetics” that I haven’t done enough with. I love Transmutation Charges. More than anything, I LOVE DYE!!!!! Oh my goodness. If I could have all the enameled dye, as well as some of the more expensive ones with high saturation like Blacklight? Oh, I would be in Tyrian heaven.

    c) Pick up and Play – Although I spend way too much time doing too little, usually it’s because my options are so wide. I log on, I can do anything with a few mouse-clicks. Dungeon? Done. Silverwastes? Done. PvP? Done. WvW? Done. I get sucked in and can join anything easily. Favourite game ever!

  3. Do you feel the need to role-play your character when playing MMORPGs? Explain.
    I recently had been asked about the origins of the names of all my characters, and the roleplaying element to it all. Honestly, I deleted my first Thief who was an 80 with full exotics. Why? I didn’t feel a ‘connection’ with him. When I create characters, it’s like writing a story: each has personality, conflict, history, preferences, and their own thoughts. Some of my characters get along, while others don’t. Tie that in with being married to a woman who loves stories and roleplaying, and you’ve got many nights of fun. We actually spend time with the two of us, writing stories of the adventures and conflicts of our characters.
  4. What so you consider to be the biggest challenge when writing?
    Accurately conveying my heart. I can convey concepts, but how do you convey a genuine sensation or feeling? How do you convey the impression you get on something–not just from your head, but your heart? This has been the greatest challenge for me to try to get out there, and many seem to connect.
  5. What do you use as your source of inspiration when you write?
    I honestly don’t know how to answer this. It’s like asking what my inspirations are for my music as well (I recently released a single on iTunes). I can’t really tell you. They come from the depths of my heart, influenced from all sorts of fantasy, other bloggers who have nothing to do with gaming, and many books that I read for personal development.
  6. If you could be any character in a story, who would you be and why?
    That’s an insanely difficult character. The first one that comes to mind is Ganoes Paran from the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. This is my favourite series so far (ok, so I’m only just finishing Deadhouse Gates [book 2]) and I found in Gardens of the Moon, he was real, somewhat feeble, and compelling. Yet the series is all about the evolution of the characters, and that really draws me in. I guess in a lot of ways, I can relate to him in his struggles with identity, self-worth, and purpose.

  7. What is your favorite book of all time?
    Strange question for me to answer. Favourite epic fantasy so far is Gardens of the Moon by the aforementioned Steven Erikson. Favourite for personal guidance and life, the Bible. Favourite for self-development and being challenged to bring life, love, and value to the world would be the Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.
  8. Name one goal you hope to achieve this year.
    In terms of blogging, my goal is for consistency of releasing my blogs each week. For personal, that goes down to development in my business selling gourmet coffee. So I guess that’s two goals?
  9. What do others say is your best quality? Do you agree?
    Most people say my best quality is my ability to listen/love (as the two are inseparable). I’d say I agree, only because it’s a huge value of mine and something I try really hard to emphasize in my life.
  10. What inspired your online name?
    The Traveller of Tyria actually comes from a title I have in Guild Wars 2–“Traveller.” I was trying to figure out the purpose and heart of the blog. Originally, I figured it would simply be a place for roleplaying-esque jabbering with lots of scenic pictures of what one can find all throughout Tyria. It quickly developed into much more, becoming much more philosophical in nature. It may have been my wife who asked me what I wanted to do involving the blog, and I said: “Travel Tyria.” Thus, the Traveller of Tyria was born!
  11. Do you feel your writing inspires your readers?
    I sometimes find it hard to understand why I would inspire my readers, as I think I babble too much about philosophical concepts in gaming and community, but I know that my friend Urebril frequently encourages me that I’m one of the influences of his writing. So the evidence of at least one is that I do inspire. Do I fully embrace it and believe it? I suppose I don’t want to become arrogant, so I shelf it and say “thank you” for the kind words.

With that being said, I’d love to nominate someone who inspires me greatly. It’s up to you if you want to answer these following questions, but sometimes it’s nice for your readers to hear a little bit more about who you are. The others who I would have nominated have already been stolen away because they’re that amazing.

I nominate…
Aster – My #1 contributor to my blog in 2014, and an all-around great guy. Every encounter I’ve had with him has been positive. He’s encouraging, exciting, and his blog is *always* worth reading! I challenge you to answer the same questions I was asked (copy & paste, baby) to let your readers hear a bit more about who you are, and how awesome you are!

A few others to specially note that you should check out are Dragon Season, Chronicles of Tyria, Varr (who writes for Chronicles of Tyria but I believe deserves special mention), and Wyrmhole Gaming. There are many more, but there you go!

I hope this has given you an insight, so I leave you with a question…
What is one thing you’d like to know about me?