Massively OP Kickstarter donor John has a very simple question to kick off our morning: Why the heck is server downtime still a thing?
“How can any modern MMO still have server downtime after something like Guild Wars 2? Are we bad consumers? Do we not care? Obviously doable and I work for a company with a web frontend and plenty of places easily have the same without (planned) planned downtime.”
I’ve always found that curious too. I can understand why pre-Guild Wars 2 — Guild Wars 1, really — games would be locked into their server downtime/uptime paradigm, but new MMOs? What’s your excuse? Why don’t all MMORPGs have a rolling patch system like GW2’s? Why is MMORPG server downtime still a thing?
ArenaNet’s Paul Ella has a fresh blog post out this afternoon revealing the plan for legendary armor in Guild Wars 2. If you’re my kind of Guild Wars 2 player, your response is probably somewhere between “woot new stuff” and “dammit quit doubling down y’all,” so let’s zoom in.
Ella confirms that legendary armor is a reward for raiding content, with unique silhouettes and animations and minimized clipping and of course rune slots. He’s got screenshots for each armor type, each one designed thematically.
“When we started creating raids, our aim was to produce complex endgame combat that would really give players a chance to demonstrate their skills, abilities, and tactical thinking in overcoming its challenges. As a reward for defeating the raid bosses, we realized early on that we would need something that reflects your success to other players. Enter legendary armor—the ultimate pinnacle of armor in all of Tyria.”
What does a week where the news douses us in a shower of smaller stories look like? Bree and Justin wring out of their clothes, shaking loose tales of metropolises in the planning, console features, anniversary parties, and dance studios. Maybe it won’t flood the world of MMOs, but it definitely waters the lawns of our interest!
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Super Adventure Box departed Guild Wars 2 last week, so you had to expect we were on the brink of seeing another episode of the living story. Indeed, ArenaNet has just announced that very episode: It’s called Flashpoint, it’s apparently the next-to-last episode of season three, and it’s launching in just one week on May 2nd.
“Flashpoint finds the forces of good fighting a battle on two fronts. The fight against the now more powerful Elder Dragons seemingly has turned in their favor with news that Taimi’s research has resulted in a machine that can stop them with a single decisive blow. Meanwhile, the powerful mursaat Lazarus – who returned mysteriously purporting to be an ally – has been revealed to be an imposter. Marjory Delaqua attached herself to him to investigate and is now headed back to Rata Novus without discovering much about the truth of his identity. Both paths converge as Lazarus is on his way for a confrontation; in Flashpoint, players will uncover shocking secrets and come face-to-face with a threat unlike any they’ve seen before.”
ArenaNet is also permanently dropping the price of Heart of Thorns by 20 bucks, meaning that the cheapest buy-in for the game’s first expansion is now $29.99. (Maybe it’s another hint that the under-construction expansion isn’t that far away, eh?)
Yesterday’s Elder Scrolls Online press embargo drop allowed us to talk a bit more about the overpowered state of the Morrowind Warden class — in fact, Larry flat-out called it a Mary Sue. What surprised me about the ensuing discussion was how incredibly cynical our readers were in response to that (and to the general community uproar over the class). Quite a lot of you (and other highly engaged gamers) seem to believe that ZeniMax is releasing the Warden totally overpowered intentionally as part of its marketing strategy, and to some extent, it makes sense — you want to create hype for your game and get people to buy it, so make sure to pack in a badass, solo-friendly class that encourages fence-sitters to make that leap.
On the other hand, you risk ticking off a couple million existing players who don’t want their characters falling to the bottom of the heap or who don’t want to feel as if they have to reroll.
Do you believe studios like ZeniMax, Blizzard, and ArenaNet intentionally release overpowered new classes, planning to nerf and balance them later? And if so, is it the smart call?
As we reported back in February, long-time ArenaNet artist Daniel Dociu left the studio after many years of helping to shape the distinctive visual style of the Guild Wars franchise. The baton of art director was passed down to his son Horia, who has worked off and on with studio since 2003.
Horia Dociu sat down with Rock Paper Shotgun for an interview last Friday to talk about the challenge of succeeding his father. “I think we share a lot of ideas,” he said. “It’s easy to say that I learned it all from him, but the truth is, I learned from seeing his methods work over the years […] I certainly am not trying to fill my dad’s shoes. That’s the first thing I had to tell myself — it’s impossible to be someone else, so just be yourself.”
Dociu said that under his direction, Guild Wars 2 will not be stagnant but will innovate and embrace “constant change” as it always has without ruining the foundation that’s been built: “I love the world of Guild Wars, and it’d be equally a crime for me to force a change in it arbitrarily as it would be for me to try and rehash anything we’ve done before. ”
Just because you happen to be a humanoid frog doesn’t mean that you’ve lost at the lottery of life. On the contrary, you have all sorts of advantages, such as being able to install and replace light fixtures very high in your underground cavern. Also, you can eat flies.
Reader Finyar starts us out this week with a stunning interior location from a fan-favorite MMO: “I’m currently playing Guild Wars 2 again and I’m always impressed with how beautifully crafted the game world is.”
Art matters, people. Also, why can’t we play more frogs in online games?
In the next week or so, Lord of the Rings Online will be kicking off its 10th anniversary with a new “scavenger hunt” that will come in the form of three quests every week. It make me think of how the game experimented with weekly quests from 2015 to 2016 with the 52-part Bingo Boffin series. I’m just now going through those, but I love the idea of having a quest chain gradually unlock on a weekly basis. Gives you something to look forward to playing and makes the game feel a bit like anticipating the next episode of your favorite TV show.
It’s not a terribly common thing in the industry, but there are examples of teams that attempted something like this. Asheron’s Call faithfully put out fresh story content on a monthly basis for most of its run, and the first season of Guild Wars 2’s living story revolved around a two-week update schedule (which would’ve been great except for no way to replay episodes you missed).
I’m curious if anyone else would want weekly MMO quest releases in addition to big content updates and expansions. These wouldn’t even have to be major quests, just something small and new that comes out on a frequent basis. What do you think?
YouTuber WoodenPotatoes, whom you might remember from Tina’s top five Guild Wars 2 vloggers review earlier this week, has posted a lengthy review of Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns, now a year and a half on. It’s a critical look at the promises made for the expansion, the expectations we had for it, what was actually delivered, and how the game has progressed over time to now.
“I think you’d be crazy to say that Heart of Thorns didn’t disappoint at release,” he says in the first video. “It disappointed me. The story was too short, the content was too limited, and very importantly, it didn’t feel like much more had been added with the raw expansion than if they’d simply continued the previous living world season instead. And that would’ve been free.”
But since then, he argues, ArenaNet has fleshed out the game and made 2016 the game’s strongest year (though it wasn’t without its own content droughts). If you’re a fan or former fan of the game, it’s worth a look — it certainly resonates with me and echoes a lot of the complaints (and praise) we’ve seen over the last many months down in our own comment section.
Today we are sitting down with ArenaNet
Lead Composer Maclaine Diemer
, who players might best know from his work on Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
and Living World Season 3. Diemer picked up the baton from Jeremy Soule
, the original composer for the base game, and has been pumping out terrific music for the MMORPG ever since.
Massively OP: At this point in your career at ArenaNet, how many pieces of music have you composed for Guild Wars 2?
Maclaine Diemer: I think about this from time to time, but I honestly don’t know. I’d say it’s in the “several dozen” range, between all the holiday festivals, Living World content, Heart of Thorns, and other miscellaneous stuff like cinematics and marketing videos. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!
An MMORPG with a crappy user interface doesn’t last long in 2017. ArtCraft has this lesson memorized and has put it to good use in Crowfall, if today’s dev update is any measure.
UX Design Lead Billy Garretsen grants game-watchers a tour of the evolution of the PvP MMO’s alpha login screens, kingdom selection screens, heads-up display, and tooltips. The first thing you’re going to notice? It’s very white, reminiscent of the sort of look capitalized on in 2011 by Dragon Age 2 and 2012 by Guild Wars 2. Inside the game, though, the HUD and tooltips are relatively dark and flat — an extremely popular look for everything from World of Warcraft mods to smartphone operating systems.
“Long ago we established a brand guideline that carried us through the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and development of our website and social media,” Garretsen says. “Over time, the UX presentation in the game has deviated and lost some of its brand identity” — and that’s what the latest revisions are meant to fix.
I often find that playing Guild Wars 2
leaves me with more questions than answers when it comes to lore and story predictions, build strategies and rotations, and efficient raid clearing, so I spend plenty of time listening to the advice and opinions offered by my fellow players to both improve my own gaming experience and engage with my favourite MMO when I’m not logged in. My YouTube subscription list reads like a who’s who of Guild Wars 2
content creators and I’m never stuck for entertaining and informative videos to watch during my commutes to classes, so I thought it was about time that I took some time to share my favourites with you in case any are missing in your own subscription lists.
In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll list some fantastic YouTubers who you should most definitely check out if you’re not already familiar with them. Many of the names making the list are massively popular and you’d have to have lived under a rock to be unfamiliar with their work, but others deserve much more attention that they get for the fantastic GW2 content they create and might well be new to you. Have a watch of the videos included below and don’t forget to subscribe if you enjoy what you see and, of course, add your favourite GW2 YouTubers in the comments.
Never underestimate the ingenuity and creative spirit of players when they are given even the most bare-bones tools in an MMORPG.
To wit, a player who goes by Alilinke.7690 painstakingly created the famous Mona Lisa painting in a Guild Wars 2 guild hall using blocks and shadows. While the painting might not be as detailed as the real thing, it is nevertheless impressive that this could be done at all in the game itself.
According to the description by YouTube eyepoo, this probably took a very long time to create: “To construct this ‘drawing,’ objects were placed with remarkable precision mid-air (which requires that object to be placed on top of something else which is then removed). The difficulty of exact decoration placement in guild halls is considerable, making this shadow sculpture all the more mind-boggling. The cast shadow then ‘draws’ the Mona Lisa on the wall made of blocks.”
Imagine what could be done if Guild Wars 2 had proper housing, eh? See it for yourself below!