Guild Chat: Balancing real life and MMORPG commitments

Welcome along to another advice-filled edition of Guild Chat, the column in which I attempt to huddle together with the Massively Overpowered community in order to help a reader in need with his or her guild-related issue by offering both my opinions on the problem at hand and a space for other readers to add their thoughts on the matter too. This time, reader Ken has asked us for help with how he can let his guild know his personal boundaries for when the demands placed on him cross the line and become too much for him to adequately balance with his personal life. Ken loves sinking time into World of Warcraft and completes both raids and PvP with his guildmates with great success, but the demands placed on him outside of the times when he runs this high-end content is increasing as his guild seeks to aim higher and higher. He wishes to know if he'd be unfair to say no to some of the additional demands on his time so he can maintain a good gaming/life balance.

As ever, read Ken's full submission below alongside my thoughts on how to best maintain a good balance between high-end content completion and real-world pursuits, and then give Ken your best advice in the comments section.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Ten things I'd forgotten from Guild Wars 2's Living World Season 1

I spent quite a while poring over a recent gem of a video that served as a fantastically nostalgic trip down memory lane through its condensed retelling of the Living World season 1 story. The cleverly constructed movie was made possible by the historic work of several Guild Wars 2 enthusiasts, with several contributions being knitted together in a coherent order by Youtuber Dreamy Abaddon in an almost 3-hour delight. Although much of the content has not been voiced over or personally recorded by Abaddon, the amount of effort that has gone into creating the piece has to be commended. It's fantastic to remember the roots of the Living World system in this way since we can no longer revisit what many would consider it the best season to date.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'm going to take you through a lighthearted list of particular moments or sentiments I'd forgotten about in the haze of all that story content, which I hope will inspire you to check out the full movie for yourself, especially if you missed out on Season 1. My list is a little spoilerific for those who aren't up to date with Scarlet's story, but since it's such old content I doubt any of you will shout over that. In any case, I hope you enjoy my list of forgotten favourites from Season 1 and will collate your own best moments in the comments below.

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Guild Chat: Reflecting on 2016's MMO guild issues and commenter advice

We're finally rid of the crazy rollercoaster ride that was 2016 and are now taking our seats aboard the crazy train that'll be 2017, meaning that there's no better time for me to look back on a year's worth of (sometimes) sage advice and supportive suggestions that have been given to our readers in need throughout 2016. The comments section is more often enough far more instructive than the advice given from my own singular perspective, so it's only right that I pull out some of the best of that wisdom as I revisit some of my favourite topics from the last twelve months.

In this edition of Guild Chat, I will take you on a trip down memory lane, looking back on 2016's best entries and pointing out how readers furthered the discussion by adding their two cents to the dilemma at hand. I hope that you'll feel inspired to look back on any editions you missed at the time and will add your own personal favourites and best reader advice in the comments below.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: 2017 predictions for Guild Wars 2

The year is most definitely drawing to a close: I've devoured a mountain of turkey and stuffing sandwiches, binge-watched all of my favourite holiday movies, and failed the Wintersday jumping puzzle far too many times to count, so I am under no illusion that 2016 will be over before I know it. With that said, I wanted to take a moment to look back on everything that 2016 brought to Guild Wars 2, revisit my predictions from the beginning of the year to see how wrong right I was, and finally add some new predictions and wishes for 2017. I'm feeling very nostalgic and whimsical this festive season, so it's the perfect time for a reflection as well as a little bit of optimistic wishlisting!

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, expect a blend of already-known information with my usual dose of heavy speculation and a noble attempt at piecing together the scant pieces of information that exist regarding ArenaNet's 2017 plans. As much as I'll try to steer clear of spoilers where possible, I feel that this will be a bookmark-and-read-later option for those of you who aren't quite up to date with the 2016 GW2 happenings. My 2017 predictions will contain potential spoilers throughout for those who haven't caught up, but I won't place these spoilers behind tags due to the time elapsed between the last story drop and today.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 PvP league changes explained

Guild Wars 2 fans had a strong inkling that some significant, much-needed changes would be a large part of the PvP League's season 5 launch, and we certainly haven't been disappointed. ArenaNet has made sizeable changes to how PvP players earn rewards and are matched up against one another with the main goal of making faster, more accurate matches that better reward those who engage with the league. Season 5 really seeks to challenge and stretch PvPers as they climb the rankings, engage as many players as possible for the entirety of the season, and open up the competitive playing field much more than ever before.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll outline the changes you'll see if you engage with this PvP season and help you understand how the overhaul might impact your game. It's early days and I don't hope to fully evaluate how well the changes will meet the aims set by ArenaNet, but I'll also give you my two cents on the improvements as well.

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MMO Mechanics: 2016's MMORPG mechanics in review

The holiday season is finally upon us: My decorations are resurrected from their dark corner of my storage closets once more, Jack Frost is beginning to nip at my toes on these frosty evenings, and even the MMOs that fill my free time are getting into the festive spirit with amazing seasonal activities. It's the perfect time for a dose of nostalgia and I thought that a look back at 2015's column entries and revisit the comments sections of each one to pull out some of your fantastic offerings on the topics I've covered over the last year. This column holds some of my favourite articles I have written in no small part because of the topic development that happens via your amazing thoughts and counterpoints that are added in the comments.

In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I'll revisit my top picks from the column's 2016 entries and summarise my thoughts on my favourite topics to provide you with an end-of-year roundup that should be particularly useful for those of you who have missed some editions and fancy a quick catch up. I'll also be quoting my favourite comments that were left on each of those articles too, so if you're a regular reader be sure to check and see if your comment is featured!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2's A Crack in the Ice

I've covered plenty of ground since my initial impressions piece went live last week, and I'm hoping that you've had time to play Guild Wars 2's most recent addition to the Living World's third season by now because I am bursting to share my thoughts with you all! A Crack in the Ice passed me by rather quickly, but I nevertheless greatly appreciated such a well-paced chunk of story landing on my lap on the shy side of the holidays. My preview pieces are always light on spoilers due to the lack of time I get to sink into the story in advance, especially since I never want to ruin the launch day suspense for myself prematurely.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll give you a blow by blow account of A Crack in the Ice and present the highlights and lowlights as I see them. There are no bones about it: This article will be jam-packed with spoilers for those who have not yet completed the episode. If you're behind in terms of story, I recommend skipping this one until you're ready to discuss the story!

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First impressions of Guild Wars 2's A Crack in the Ice episode

ArenaNet gave us all word of a seasonably frosty addition to the Guild Wars 2 Living World story last week: The third instalment of season 3 is upon us right now just in time for Thanksgiving and is unlockable for anyone who logs in over the next few weeks. A Crack in the Ice will take players on a journey into the Far Shiverpeaks as we track the activity of Jormag after Taimi's bombshell about his recent activity levels. I was left expecting plenty of references to old Guild Wars: Eye of the North content and also noticed the trailer's music called back to Living World season 1, which has had the desired effect of piling me onto the Season 3 hype train once more.

I managed to fit in a guided tour of both the new (but distinctly familiar!) fractal and the new zone in the short window between the episode's announcement and its launch today, and while it's difficult to follow the impressiveness of episode 2, I'm no less excited to bring you my early thoughts on A Crack in the Ice. I played through one chapter and had a good toddle around in the new zone over the weekend, but as ever with these launch day impression pieces, I deliberately tried not to spoil too much of the story for myself and will be keeping the write-up fairly spoiler free as well. Anything at all questionable has been placed behind spoiler tags for your reading convenience.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Five reasons to buy Guild Wars 2's Heart of Thorns while it's on sale

Ever since Guild Wars 2's first expansion released, retired players or MMO hoppers have been insisting in comments across the internet that they would only consider buying Heart of Thorns if it went on sale. I understand the sentiment, particularly with the MMO market being as saturated as it is and there being a sizeable strain on our MMO budgets to keep up with the latest developments in the genre. This week, the expansion is 50% off and still includes the max level boost and base game, so I thought it was a great time to talk about why those who haven't already should take the plunge and step into the Heart of Maguuma.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll list some lighthearted yet nevertheless compelling reasons for those who haven't already to get on board with the HoT train. Hopefully, some of my reasoning will help tip you over the edge if you were considering purchasing the expansion and just needed a good excuse.

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Guild Chat: Climbing the guild rank ladder in MMORPG raiding

Welcome along to another edition of Guild Chat, the column in which both reader and writer alike join forces to help someone in need handle his or her guild-related query or question. This time around, reader Trent wants some help is changing the long-standing grouping and hierarchy in his guild because he feels as though he is being constantly overlooked at this point in his MMO career despite his being unfalteringly loyal to his guild and having turned down positions in other guilds to stay with his team.

Trent has been raiding with his World of Warcraft guild for one and a half years now and has never been promoted from the C-team, but he believes that he has done more than enough to prove his worth to his guild leader in stepping up to fill slots for other higher-achieving raiding teams whenever an A or B-Team raider needs to miss a session and showing obvious signs of improvement on his initial performances that saw him placed on the lowest achieving squad his guild fields.

See below for Trent's full submission and my advice to him, not forgetting to add your two cents to the comments as well.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Amazing Guild Wars 2 in-game Halloween costumes

I've devoured all of my homemade pumpkin pasties and downed the last of my butterbeer while enjoying the Halloween festivities in Guild Wars 2, gaining some very pretty treats for my playtime. One of my favourite parts of the Halloween season is seeing characters in costume, though: Only in GW2 -- aka Fashion Wars -- will you see so many characters getting into the season while playing the Mad King's games and generally being festive. The best effort I put forward this year was to apply more Abyss dye to smoke out my usual armour colour scheme and equip some spookier weapon skins, so I'm always blown away by the effort some people make to get into the spooky spirit. Costuming is a year-long pursuit for many players, but Halloween seems to bring out the most awesome character cosplays and gives me a perfect opportunity to showcase the talent in the GW2 community.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'm going to showcase some of my favourite character costumes from 2016, as spotted in-game, spied on the season-focused Guild Wars 2 Reddit threads, and during my random browsing of far too many GW2 YouTube videos. Be sure to add screenshots of your costumes in the comments for me to check out, and don't forget to share any real-life character cosplays you wore as well!
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Guild Chat: Trying out for a hardcore MMORPG guild

Welcome along to another advice-filled edition of Guild Chat, the column dedicated to helping readers solve their guild-related dilemmas with both my help and that of the comment section. Together we've dealt with issues ranging from setting up a strong guild roster to how to use VOIP without causing your guildmates to head-plant their keyboards in frustration, but today's issue is quite unique in that our reader-in-need is in a desirable guild, and said guild is welcoming, well-organised, active -- and hardcore.

The reason for Jay's submission is that he has managed to get himself into this "hardcore," well-managed guild because a close friend vouched for his ability and natural aptitude for high-end MMO play, but Jay is now starting to feel the pressure as he gets closer to the level cap and will soon be expected to prove his worth to his new guild. His friend might have overstated Jay's experience level in his excitement at Jay actually joining him in an MMO, and in actuality, this will be the first time Jay has ever reached an MMO level cap and he has never experienced endgame content himself.  Jay is wondering whether to be honest with his guild before he reaches the cap and is expected to step up to the plate but must consider how that would impact on his friend who recommended him in the first place.See below for Jay's full submission and don't forget to pop your thoughts on the matter in a comment.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Gaming playstyles, science, and Guild Wars 2

I was curious recently about what specific personality traits or personal qualities lead to my enjoyment of MMOs in general and Guild Wars 2 in particular, especially after reading that Quantic Foundry has just conducted new research into any potential correlation between gender, age, and playstyle. The research referenced in the Daily Grind post was taken from a relatively small set of responses, but I was nevertheless prompted to consider my own playstyle and revisit my Quantic Foundry gaming profile again.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'm going to examine my gaming profile and explain how it might relate to the type of GW2 content I choose to play, giving examples as I go to help other gamers with similar motivations consider whether GW2 might be the perfect MMO choice for them as well.

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