Tina Lauro Pollock

Reporter

Tina is the purveyor of Massively Overpowered's MMO Mechanics and Guild Chat columns, and is the newly installed writer of the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles for Guild Wars 2. She is hard at work on her first video game, the indie space 4X game Predestination.

Twitter: @purpletinabeans

Guild Chat: Tips for meeting guildmates in real life

Welcome along to Guild Chat, my column in which I join forces with commenters to help a reader in need with a guild-related concern. This edition's submission is all about deciding to meet up with your guildmates in real life: Reader Xenos is great online friends with many of his guildmates and is considering either inviting them over to visit him or travelling out to see them. In Xenos' case this would require international travel, Before he makes the leap, however, he is looking for our advice on whether real-world meetups are a good idea and how to approach it safely. Keep reading for my thoughts on organising guild meets and Xenos' full submission, then don't forget to add your thoughts in the comments.

"I've been gaming with the same bunch of people for a long while now and we get along super well. I have the entire summer off classes and plan to travel anyways so was wondering if I should suggest a guild meet or ask my best friends in the guild if I can come visit them. I haven't brought it up yet so I don't know if they'd like to meet and I also worry about how safe it is and seeming weird or suspicious by asking. Any advice?"

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Creating a better balance in Guild Wars 2 raiding

One of the major concerns aired by the Guild Wars 2 playerbase regarding raid content is the risk of juicy raid-only story details being gated away from the bulk of players. In comments found on part one of my breakdown of Bastion of the Penitent, the most recent raid wing, many of you again discussed this problem and brought up other issues with how ArenaNet presents raiding to players in the game. Although I had planned to run my second installment in the Bastion of the Penitent series to cover the lore found in the raid, after seeing the content of your comments, I thought that I should give space to some of these complaints to see if we can perhaps come up with some suggestions for improvement in future.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll take a look at the most pressing gripes players have about how raiding has been implemented in GW2 while examining how this could be built upon to create larger appeal for the content that's being created without alienating diverse sects of the game's community.

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Guild Chat: Dealing with MMORPG guild inactivity

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively Overpowered community gets together to help crack guild problems presented by readers in need of assistance. In this edition, we're going to take a slightly different spin on things and deal with two thematically linked reader submissions in one article since both readers have requested help with inactive guilds. My first submission from an anonymous reader asks a very simple question of us: What can be done to save a guild that is dying from inactivity? Our second submission comes from reader Razornus and looks at the matter from the perspective of a guild member rather than a leader, so we can discuss both sides of the coin and determine the best course of action for both types of player.

See below for each reader's full submission and leave your specific advice for both parties in the comments.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Getting to grips with Guild Wars 2's Bastion of the Penitent

ArenaNet launched a new standalone raid tier, dubbed Bastion of the Penitent, alongside The Head of the Snake Living World chapter, but I've not had a moment to discuss it since the launch last month until now. I realise that raiding doesn't have the broad appeal of the Living World content, and that affects how I prioritise coverage of new Guild Wars 2 developments, but I always come back to raiding content since I personally get so much enjoyment out of it. This raid wing has been no exception: The encounters start off at an achievable level of difficulty and ramp up to pose more of a challenge fairly quickly, and even the easier encounters have clever mechanics that keep things fun.

In the first part of my Bastion of the Penitent coverage for Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll talk you through the rough mechanics of each boss fight, ignoring for now the lore you'll find locked behind the raid wing's door until the next part and also refraining from giving very specific meta or group composition advice. I've decided to leave that for any requested in-depth boss encounter guides you require so that I don't bore you with more raid coverage than you want to see! This edition is more of a what-to-expect rundown than a definitive guide to the encounters. As ever, let me know your thoughts on the raid in the comments and feel free to request detailed, phase-by-phase encounter breakdowns if a particular boss is giving you trouble. I haven't yet attempted the bosses on challenge mode, but if you'd like me to do so and provide you with any successful strategies I employ, then I will - all in the name of gamer science!

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MMO Mechanics: 2017's take on the sandbox MMO

I am finding it hard to believe that we are two months into 2017 already, especially since I've had so many pressing Guild Chat submissions recently that I haven't had a chance to turn my hand back to MMO Mechanics in all that time! As an introduction to a new year, I usually like to include a predictions column that summarises my perspective on how I believe mechanics will change over the following twelve months, but I don't feel as though the 2016 trends I mentioned have died out yet and wish to instead focus on the sustained emphasis on sandbox MMO development with strong holistic, character developing mechanics.

In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I'm going to talk about some upcoming MMOs and the non-combat, realistic, and technical mechanics added into the 2017 sandbox mix. Although I can't guarantee that the titles I mention below will actually release this year, each of them has enough solid development behind them to make a 2017 release at least probable; besides, even if these titles don't release in the next ten months, they will still bear the hallmarks of the state of the modern sandbox MMO and are worth noting. Add your thoughts on the common threads you're finding in 2017's planned MMO mechanics in the comments: I'm sure to miss several key mechanics development trends in this non-exhaustive list.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2's The Head of the Snake

Now that I've had a little time to sink my hours into completing the episode after my initial impressions piece two weeks ago, I'm ready to bring you a more detailed breakdown of Guild Wars 2's most recent addition to the Living World's third season. The Head of the Snake was battle-heavy and pacey, leaving us with yet more questions that we hope shall be answered before the season is over. I was left wanting to know more and hoping that the episode would also feature some story asides from outside of the Kryta and White Mantle arc, so I was very eager to get playing so I could share my thoughts here for you.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll unpack the story presented in The Head of the Snake and present you with my favourite elements and disappointments as well. The article will contain spoilers throughout and is not safe reading for those who have not yet completed this episode. Feel free to bookmark this one and revisit it when you're all caught up should you not have had a chance to play for yourself yet.

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Guild Chat: Pro tips for incentivising active MMO guild membership

Welcome along to another edition of Guild Chat, the column through which Massively Overpowered readers can have their guild-related questions or concerns addressed through both the articles themselves and the comments section from other readers, allowing for a broad basis of supportive advice to help the reader in need. In this edition, Wakfu guild leader Aio asks if setting up a schedule for high-level players to encourage them to run with low-level characters regularly is a good idea and wishes to find dome help with how to plan and populate such a schedule. At this point in time, Aio is almost solely responsible for looking after low-level players in the guild and would love to hear ideas of some fun activities that could help entice others into naturally interacting with lower level players.

See Aio's full submission below and don't forget to head on down to the comments section to leave your advice on guild scheduling and multi-level event planning.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: First impressions of Guild Wars 2's The Head of the Snake

If you're reading this, then the poor ArenaNet team has finally managed to battle the crazy weather and pressed the big red button: The Living World season 3's fourth installment will be playable right now should you log in. Minor delay aside, I am absolutely thrilled to see another episode of gripping story is already with us, especially since the episode in question focuses on the stunning surroundings of Divinity's Reach and wider Kryta. The Head of the Snake can be unlocked on each player's Guild Wars 2 account simply by logging in any time from now until the next episode releases, so don't forget to dust off your account if you're not actively playing right now but wish to bank the story for later.

I was invited along to have a quick playthrough with the devs on the stage client before the launch today so that my first impressions would be with you as soon as the episode dropped in this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles. While I can't say that the small glimpse at the episode's content ranked as highly in my estimations as episode 2 did, I very much enjoyed the freeform skirmishes and political subterfuge that I experienced in the one chapter I played in its entirety during my guided run-through and short excursion on my own over the weekend. As ever, I'll attempt to keep this piece as spoiler-free as I can, so anything questionable will be placed behind spoiler tags to make your reading experience better.

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Guild Chat: Dealing with anxiety and the pressures of MMORPG guilds

Welcome along to another issue of Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively Overpowered community can come together to help readers in need with their guild problems. The topic at hand this time is a little bit different from those I usually tackle, and I'd particularly welcome input from those who suffer from anxiety since I'm not using any firsthand experience to form my advice the way I would normally. This anonymous reader has been suffering from what she describes as anxiety and panic attacks that are being triggered by her gaming. Although most of her MMO time is enjoyable for her, she finds that high-octane group content of all kinds can send her into a deep, suffocating panic and it takes a long time for her to calm down and decelerate her emotions again afterwards. She is seeking advice with coping strategies and is ultimately questioning whether or not her MMO gaming should be put to an end to save her from such frequent bouts of anxiety.

Read on for the full anonymous submission and don't forget to leave your advice in the comments as well.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: A guide to Forsaken Thicket, Guild Wars 2's first raid

I have to apologise to raiders for not finishing my boss guides I began back in 2015: This is one of those articles that I've been meaning to write for quite a while, but ArenaNet has been doing a fantastic job of throwing shiny distractions in my path that have some sense of urgency (or at least a topical timing factor I can't ignore) to its deliverance. My Guild Wars 2 raiding experience so far has taken a backseat to Living World developments over the past few months, so rather than attempting to draw up more raid boss guides to round out the set I commenced before season 3 became my article content focus that would just regurgitate known information to most current raiders, I thought it would be a better idea to summarise the Forsaken Thicket experience and share my thoughts on its encounters to wrap up the first raid in writing.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll look at each wing of Forsaken Thicket and the encounters contained in them, presenting my opinions on the battles and providing a rated-and-hated sort of summary on the three wings in the process. I'll link up the few boss guides I compiled where relevant, but the main focus will be on how the encounter plays rather than how best to approach it. This article should prove useful for those who haven't yet completed Forsaken Thicket and are considering raiding in GW2 as well as those who raid in other MMORPGs and are interested in comparing Anet's offerings to their raids of choice.

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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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