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.

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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.

Traveller Thursday #12

Hello fellow travellers! Excited to share with you a few screenshots for #TravellerThursday! I know it’s been a long time, but I’m excited to have made a few life changes that are helping me sort out my energy levels. So here goes:

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When the new Lion’s Arch came out, I went crazy with screenshots. Here’s the new Black Lion Trading Company!

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I couldn’t help but peek into the Guild Headquarters. Mind you, there’s a way to sneak in there but my guildies ported me.

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One day Omhaxx and Glorra, our Asura, shall get married there!

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There’s something perplexing yet mystifying about this screenshot to me. I can’t put my finger on it, but it looks strange but wonderful.

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This is one of the most breathtaking views in Guild Wars 2. The sea, the gloomy air, and the beautiful architecture in the distance. I sometimes stop and stare at this screenshot for a while.

And that’s it for this week! Glad to be back with you guys.

Be sure to tweet your first-person screenshots to @gw2traveller with the hashtag, #TravellerThursday to share them with the rest of Tyria and beyond!

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!

More

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?

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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!

Traveller Thursday #7

It’s yet another wonderful week of #TravellerThursday!! Here are some of the fun screenshots I’ve managed to capture over the past week.

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Ahh. The Shiverpeaks. My favourite places in the entire game. I actually get physically cold when I’m here though.

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Accidentally took a picture with my wife’s Asura on there. Turned out pretty awesome!

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oooooOOOOooooo… pretty water.

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I have a thing for architecture in games. ❤ Also, look at that flame!

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So this was the first time I’ve *ever* noticed flame around the temple. Clearly, I am observant.

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The stone. Those vines. The beauty! The Straits of Devastation actually have quite a few beautiful places in it. Take some time to check it out yourself!

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Also in the Straits. What is this? An Asura gate? I wish there was more lore and backstory to it!

Do you have some First-Person Screenshots to share? Be sure to hashtag them to @gw2traveller with #TravellerThursday to get a retweet so we can show off the beauty of Tyria to the world!

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.

Opportunity

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!