Like a Thorn in My Foot

I’m a pretty optimistic guy–at least, I try to be. Sure, I have my moments where things are overly bleak, but I usually get my head around to where it should be. I don’t make knee-jerk opinions about things, and I don’t react with hate and over-the-top craziness when ArenaNet makes changes to Guild Wars 2. So I’ve taken the time over the past few months to chew on what they’ve done, play around with it, and embrace as much as possible. Yet I want to share something that’s been like a thorn that’s stuck in my foot (and no it’s not a sylvari that big ol’ Asmund stepped on by accident).

Traits

I actually love the trait system and how it’s set up. I find it flexible, because it’s easy to change around now (thank you ANet, for stopping me from having to dish out so much cash through respeccing… back in Lion’s Arch… multiple times a week. I love changing my build way too much.). That’s probably one of the best changes they ever did for Guild Wars 2 (and if they made it so we could have presets, I would be even happier!).

Still, there’s something that came with this change in the Feature Patch that bothers me about traits. You might think it’s how new characters have to unlock their traits through accomplishing tasks such as completing a specific event (or you could just pay in-game money and skill points for). No, that’s not it. That’s actually kind of fun for me to do. If I miss an event, I’ll usually dump some silver for the lower tiers, although the skill points are sorely missed at times.

A bit of background: Once upon a time you would start at level 11, unlocking your first tier after purchasing a little manual and gaining 1 trait point all the way up to 80, giving you 70 points. You would unlock your Master Tier at 40, and your Grandmaster at 60 by purchasing the aforementioned manual.

Now, I appreciate the change from having 70 trait points and bringing it down to 14. It made things a lot simpler, since you would trait into either a minor or major trait any way. Still, there’s one thing that’s a real frustration for me…

Issue #1 – What levels you unlock your first traits at.

For anyone starting a new character, you’ll notice you level all the way up to Lv. 30 before you unlock this great thing called the Trait System. Then you… uhhh… you wait six levels before you can do anything extra other than a major trait! YAY! Major trait! Of course, you’re also going to notice that you can’t use any of them unless you have completed certain requirements (which I had mentioned above). That’s ok, but Lv. 30? Really? You run through the game, having all your weapon skills unlocked pretty early and gain your utilities, but you don’t even get to figure out what traits do until much past 30 because…

Issue #2 – You don’t get Master Traits until 60, and Grandmaster until 80.

If somebody’s going to have a build figured out, originally it was before 80. Or at least they had a chance to play with grandmaster traits. This worked well in the process of the game, as you’d hit 80 around the Lv. 80 zones and already feel a bit more comfortable approaching areas such as Orr, or Frostgorge. You’d be comfortable if you were a new player, or a player who is attempting a new profession. Now, you walk into Lv. 80 fairly clueless without doing your research and, even then, you’re having absolutely no hands-on experience. Perhaps this was an attempt to make the later levels seem more like an “end-game,” but I find it’s just made the levelling process feel painful (and that’s coming from an alt-aholic).

Since the change, I haven’t been able to get my characters levelled very quick at all, because it takes me a very long time before I get to play around with any builds, or experiment with traits. This game is not based around an “end-game,” but a journey. Sadly, as I reflect on this change (and have never really spoken much of it to anybody but my wife), I’m wishing it were different. This change has taken away from the journey itself.

Perhaps, as an answer, there could be a blend?

Is There a Solution?

Yes, I believe there is! I’m thinking that we somehow need a blend. There are obvious problems if ArenaNet changed what levels the tiers unlock though.

  • They would have to change which events and activities had to be completed in order to unlock new traits–especially for Master and Grandmaster Tiers.
  • The prices would potentially have to be adjusted for purchasing each trait unlock from your respective profession trainer.
  • The trait point gain would have to be adjusted (from 1 point every 6 levels to a more frequent amount).

My solution?

  1. Begin traits again at Lv. 10 and unlock it all at Lv. 60.
    • This would eliminate the issue with 1 point every 6 levels, because that approach could continue to be used.
  2. Maintain the current cost of trait unlocks.
    • This may encourage people to only purchase if they are unwilling to (or cannot) unlock them manually.
  3. Go through the effort to change most of the events to be level-appropriate.
    • This would be the biggest issue that ArenaNet would have to face, and it’s the biggest problem I can see. I don’t know if there would be a way around it, and I’m not sure they really have the manpower (or desire) to change it.

Still, I think that something has to be done. Levelling used to be a thrill for me. It was a well-rounded journey (yes, that’s subjective, but I loved it). Now? I can’t seem to find the desire because it takes me way too long to start figuring out my character because of how significant traits are in this game. The game was created to be simplified with only 10 skills available at a given time (not including class mechanics), and I’m not convinced people found the combat system so complex that they had to wait until 30 before they started delving into traits.

This is the most beautiful part of a beautiful game–my favourite game I’ve ever played, and am passionately committed to. After thinking since April, I’ve finally decided that yes, this would be the most pressing issue in the system for me above everything else. I hope that one day ArenaNet manages to find some kind of blend with the old system and the new.

Have you enjoyed the new system? Is there something you could see in it to be improved? How should it be tweaked to enhance your experience in Tyria? Post in the comments below, because I would love to hear what you have to say!

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The Great Key Farm

Ever wanted to key farm? Check below for my guide!

So once in a while, my wife and I get it into our heads that we need to get a Black Lion Ticket in order to buy the latest weapon skin. Before the Tormented Skins went up to 5, we decided that we should try to make the ugliest characters possible. Of course, this escalated into me making a huge series of different characters which contained some of the following:

  • Sir Husky, the shirtless, masculine, super sexy warrior that spent most of his whole key farm shirtless.
  • Captain Patrikson, a bearded pirate who was in love with a creepy necromancer named Death Granny–because hey, Captain Patrikson has no standards or dignity.
  • The aforementioned Death Granny, who was a creepy old lady that would lure children to her basement to take their soul. Ok, actually, she’d just flat out take people’s souls. This turned into a huge laughter fest (in a creepy way) over lines like:
    • Come in, sweetie! Granny wants to use your innards to make you a friend!
      • The lesson? Never trust a creepy old necromancer of a lady. You’d be better off going into a gingerbread house.
  • Ugly Mugg (where Big Nose Ted was a huge improvement)
  • Captain Keyrk
  • Poor Keypig (ok, the name started with me saying “Porkey Pig” and a guildie took it to a beautiful new level)
  • My terrible, ugly, Michael Jackson-David Bowie love child, whose name I completely forget (find that picture down below).
  • Benedict Cumberbatch.

That’s right. You heard me. Benedict Cumberbatch. Why? Because he’s awesome. Coolest voice on earth (tied with Leonard Nimoy, with Morgan Freeman coming in a close second).

When you can make any character you want for fun, why not make Benedict Cumberbatch?

When you can make any character you want for fun, why not make Benedict Cumberbatch?

If you could choose to be anyone for key farming, why wouldn’t you be Benedict Cumberbatch? Of course, the full name wouldn’t fit giving naming length restrictions, but come on! Sherlock, Khan, Smaug, and now an Elementalist. This guy is pretty awesome. Well, he was until he got his key… then he was deleted into the Mists, or wherever deleted toons go.


Asmund’s Guide to Key Farming

  1. Roll a Human with the commoner storyline. In timing all the quick storylines, this has been the quickest for me.
    • Hint: I much prefer using a Necromancer if I’m soloing.
      • If you choose Necro, use the intro to try to unlock as many Death Shroud traits as possible.
  2. After completion the introduction, be sure to grab a long-ranged weapon for whatever profession you’re using. Staff is usually a good choice for a lot of professions that use it, as they have a lot of AoEs, especially with the Necromancer.
  3. Follow your personal story, unlocking as many skills as possible for your chosen profession.
  4. When you reach the Personal Story quest, Infiltration, be sure to choose the hospital (not the orphanage).
  5. The Hospital in Jeopardy is much easier than Arson at the Orphanage. I find myself dying much less.
    • In your key farm, this is one of the hardest quests to do in the human commoner storyline.
    • Watch out for Deadeye Della, as her long-range attacks tend to do serious damage to an under-levelled character that key farmers are.
    • If you have too much trouble, do another heart or two to level up if needed.
    • Dodge, dodge, dodge.
    • Try to pull mobs out of the hospital, one by one if possible.
  6. Finally, you’ll reach the Commander, which is the last personal story quest before you get your key!
    • Let Logan and Anise do most of the effort on this battle.
    • Watch out for the Ministry Guards with rifles. They’ll snipe you before you get the chance to react.
    • Feel free to hang out in the cell for a little bit.
    • Once the boss goes down, you’re good to go!

Congratulations! You’ve gained a Black Lion Key! My wife and I duo it and usually take about 15-17 minutes per key. It’s an exciting thing to do, is very easy, and can sometimes be rewarding (if the great RNG gods show their favour on you), but the best part is making interesting characters–even the ugliest things you’ve ever seen.

I’ll leave my Michael Jackson-David Bowie freak to bid you adieu.

He-Who-Is-Too-Ugly-To-Be-Named

He-Who-Is-Too-Ugly-To-Be-Named

I’d love to see your ugly or creative key farmer creations! Link them below!

When I Step Through the Wardrobe

One of the biggest things that ArenaNet pushes in Guild Wars 2 is their aesthetics. With the new wardrobe coming out today, we’re going to be seeing a whole new level of skins being mixed and mashed together! Imagine, being able to preview everything you’ve unlocked so you can make the most beautiful (or terrifying) character in all of Tyria! This will open up a whole new level of identity for your characters as you strive to make them more and more unique (especially for us RPers).

Over the past while, I’ve been collecting pictures of some people that stood out to me. Sure, you might think it creepy to take pictures of strangers, but I don’t think it’s creepy when they’re Tyrians (there has to be some law about F12-ing people and being able to distribute it or something). 😉

In my excitement for the wardrobe to be released (my favourite thing coming in the feature patch), I wanted to show a few designs that really stood out to me. I’m a huge fan of aesthetics, so this will be a whole new level of excitement, and I can’t wait to walk through Vigil’s Keep (or any other major city) to see what comes up next:

Arah gone wild. Frankly, I'd hate to meet this guy in a dark alley in DR.

Arah gone wild. Frankly, I’d hate to meet this guy in a dark alley in DR.

Ahh, the great Arah skin. Yes, it’s pretty standard and a full set, but it’s still rather unnerving (as he stands in the old Bank of Lion’s Arch… *sniff sniff*). I can’t say I’ve ever felt compelled to get this armour, but it’s very unique and very details–something that definitely works for a lot of people! Of course, it’s going to freak me out to see Lv.5’s with full Arah skins. What a nightmare Tyria will become!

Beautiful Asura Twins

Beautiful Asura Twins

Since we’re talking about Arah skins, I encountered these twin Asura recently. They took the very creepy and twisted skin and made it into something beautiful. Two little angels that made me smile (sure, that’s pretty easy to do, but these two are awesome). The weird thing was that I saw another one (with a different name) that looked very similar to this a few weeks earlier. Maybe the Asura started cloning each other? That’d explain why they all look the same to a Norn.

I'm not sure if he's a captain or what, but he's pretty fearsome.

I’m not sure if he’s a captain or what, but he’s pretty fearsome.

This Charr caught my eye with his ascended gear. I have to admit, I think ascended gear is ridiculously ugly (ever. last. piece), but he managed to pull it off. I’m guessing it’s because of his fur pattern, but I was impressed! Throwing in the eye patch and we have a Charr that looks like some very intense (and very rich) pirate. Good job!!

Beautiful, enticing, yet slightly disturbing. One of the most eye-catching Sylvari I've seen.

Beautiful, enticing, yet slightly disturbing. One of the most eye-catching Sylvari I’ve seen.

Next is one of my favourites. There was something about the texture of her skin that worked extremely well with the colour she chose for her outfit. I found her slightly disturbing, but in a good way. I walked by, came back, and couldn’t resist taking a picture of her. In my eyes, she’s one of the most beautiful and enticing Sylvari I’ve seen. Perhaps this is what Lyssa would look like, were she a Sylvari?

If he were Norn-Crying, he'd be the Incredible Sulk!

If he were Norn-Crying, he’d be the Incredible Sulk!

Last, but not least, is this Hulk that impressed me so much, I couldn’t tell if a Guild Wars 2 avatar was cosplaying! Definitely a humorous take on a character. I’d love to see some more Avengers done!! (<– Kudos to Reddit user, Dylanjosh for making these!)

 

I’d love to see some of your creations! If you want to share, post links to your pictures in the comments!

Confession: They Called Me Crazy

Ok, so it may be a little crazy to admit. I have a confession. I mean, it was a problem. Maybe more than a problem. They all said I was out of my mind. They said they’ve never done it before. They said I wasted my time and energy, all for nothing. Were they right? Was it possible that I royally screwed things up? They left me thinking, “what’s wrong with me?”

I have to confess to every single one of you. I’ve done the nastiest thing a person could ever do in an MMO… I deleted a fully geared out 80.

He was my first character. I had no clue what I was doing. I rolled a Charr Thief, made him huge, and thought it was hilarious. I was just excited to see Tyria for the first time, and I did. He had full exotics. He was a 400 Jeweller. He had finished the (the Trahearne Story) Personal Story. Yet I deleted him. Heck, I still haven’t used the Pact Victory Token from completing the game!

Wraxis was his name. So much time and effort was put into him. You’d think I’d miss him, but I don’t. I’m not sure if the Thief is a profession that doesn’t fit with me, or if I just had no clue what I was doing. Level 80 is always a game-changer, and I found no lasting love for the Thief; I found no lasting love for Wraxis Shadestorm. Maybe I didn’t have a deep enough connection for this character I created. I mean, that’s really important (as I mentioned in Something Old, Something New). Maybe my altoholism caught up with me, as I only had 5 slots at the time? Maybe I hit a point in my life where I just needed to do something drastic in order to cope?

Wraxis Cropped

Wraxis Shadestorm, Deceased.

This was probably the most extreme thing I’ve ever done in a game. My Sylvari Elementalist, Lefraeyn Whitethorn? Naw. She’s a love who I even got a commission done of her by comic artist and illustrator, Ember Cescon. Asmund Leifsting, my Norn Guardian? Nope. He’s the center of all that I love in GW2 (ok, so my wife talked me into getting that Total Makeover Kit instead of giving him the Norn-sized boot). So what was it? I might not really know today when I look back, but whatever it was, I guess Wraxis just didn’t cut it.

So I deleted him.

Have you ever done something crazy in a game that’s made everyone think you’re insane? I’d love to hear your experiences (and hopefully I’ll realize I’m not as insane as everyone thinks).