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Guild Wars 2 tortures Dervish fans with an outfit but no class, denies excessive data collection in ‘spyware’ controversy

World polish and bug fixes are at the forefront of Guild Wars 2’s latest patch, which went live yesterday.

Several nagging issues across the game were addressed, including hang-ups in the personal story, raids, and achievements. ArenaNet teased players by adding a “Primeval Dervish Outfit” and scythe to the cash shop, making all Guild Wars 1 refugees pine for that great class.

“A Primeval Dervish outfit, instead of a actual Dervish class… cries in Spanish,” one player said.

It also sounds like there is some movement in the game’s living world storyline: “Peacemakers report a greatly diminished presence of Awakened forces in asuran territories. The Arcane Council nonetheless urges travelers to exercise caution until any remaining malevolent undead are proven to be entirely eradicated.”

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One Shots: Tour guides

It turns out that MMORPG players really don’t need much prompting to go out and take a bazillion screenshots of their favorite in-game zones, as evidenced by the avalanche of photos generated by last week’s challenge.

SmugglerSteel kicks us off this this neon nightmare: “I knew exactly where I needed to tour in SWTOR for this one. I will always remember my first trip to Nar Shaddaa. I was blown away away by the color and aesthetic. I always thought it had a very Bladerunner inspired feel, yet still did it’s own thing.”

Like any good casino, Nar Shaddaa is designed so that players can never figure out how to leave. SmugglerSteel forwards his mail there now.

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Russia’s Telegram crackdown blocks access to WoW, EVE, and Guild Wars 2

If you play Guild Wars 2, World of Tanks, EVE Online, or World of Warcraft in Russia, you may find that access to these titles has become spotty or non-existent as of late. This is due to the Russian government cracking down on the Telegram messenger app, which came under fire for essentially allowing people to communicate without being spied upon by intrusive government agencies (and then refusing to grant said agencies backdoors into the system). Over 20 million IP addresses have been blocked in the country as of April 17th, a move that has affected many services and sites not related to Telegram.

The crackdown has basically shut down access to the login servers of Guild Wars 2 and EVE Online for some, prompting outrage and frustration among players who suddenly were not able to access their games.

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The Daily Grind: What could MMO taverns do to get you to stick around?

I have vague memories of ArenaNet talking about Guild Wars 2 taverns prior to its launch and how these spaces would be more than window dressing. Maybe that was a dream or something, but I’ve always respected the effort to make one of the most iconic of RPG locations — the tavern meeting place — more useful and engaging. Warhammer Online, too, was touting tavern brawls that would take place as public events.

We’re so conditioned to run in and out of such places that unless we are roleplaying for some reason, chances are we never stay for more than a few seconds. And that’s kind of a shame, because I like the idea of players spending some time in bars unwinding. I heard a myth of a dead MMO that used to put such an emphasis on this, but it was probably all bunk.

What could MMO taverns do to get you to stick around? Would you hang out for minigames, gambling, special events, or special buffs?

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Deep-diving Guild Wars 2’s A Bug in the System (Part 1)

Season 4 of Guild Wars 2 Living World was off to a roaring start with Daybreak so I was expecting a solid follow-up in A Bug in the System, and I can now say I wasn’t left disappointed. ArenaNet‘s focus on interesting story delivery hasn’t waned with time and the narrative is greatly improving as a result: Moreover, the teaser trailer for this episode was stronger than any of the Daybreak or even Path of Fire marketing content in my humble but honest opinion. I’ve rambled on about this before, but the trailer had a smooth delivery and polish that simultaneously captivated current players and contained enough information to entice newbies. The episode is gritty, dangerous, and humorous, and I’m delighted to share its twists and turns with you.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll discuss the main plot points for this episode and will share my highlights with you. This article is best read after completion of the episode if you’re worried about spoilers, though tags will be used where needed to avoid the biggest spoilers.

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Guild Wars 2 plans bonus harvesting weekend, backs player artists crowdfunding a GW2 tarot deck for charity

So here’s something Guild Wars 2 doesn’t do much: special weekend bonus events. This one’s probably more about getting folks to buy harvesting tools and check out the new gathering upgrade system than about getting players to forget about that whole spyware thing that hit just before the weekend, but it works for both, yeah?

“[S]tarting on April 20, you can get neat bonuses by applying resource-gathering implements to rocks, trees, plant life, and your mortal enemies!” ArenaNet says. Through April 23rd, players will “gain a 33% chance of increased gathering yield when mining, logging, and harvesting” and snag double experience in open-world PvE and WvW when gathering.

In other Guild Wars 2 news, if you’re into tarot cards or just pretty art, check out the Tyrian Tarot deck project put together by a collective of Guild Wars 2 player artists. The Indiegogo campaign for the effort – which is sponsored and approved by ArenaNet, so don’t worry about that – has already almost doubled its original ask. Pledges are effectively preorders for everything from postcards and prints of the art to a full deck, all boasting GW2-flavored artwork. Aaaand the best part is that all of the profit goes to charity: the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the biggest scandal the MMORPG genre has ever seen?

Over the weekend in the Guild Wars 2 spyware article comments, a commenter remarked that Blizzard’s Warden spyware was “the biggest scandal in MMOs” over the last 10 years. I was pretty surprised to see that claim; I was aware of Warden, but it probably wouldn’t even make my top 10 list of scandals across the industry. The first one that pops to mind is Blizzard’s RealID, probably followed by Monoclegate, the Funcom insider trading case, the EVE jumpgate scandal, the Sigil Games parking lot firing fiasco, and the NCsoft/Bluehole lawsuit.

I’m positive I’m forgetting some juicy ones. What’s the biggest scandal – scandal, mind you, not just drama – the MMORPG genre has ever seen? Lay ’em on me!

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The Game Archaeologist: Lineage

If we judged MMOs by their numbers alone — and I’m not suggesting we do so — then the original Lineage would be the crowing rooster strutting about the hen house. It’s also been one of those games that I’ve always intellectually acknowledged was a huge hit for some reason but never gave much attention. I think it’s because, contrary to many western MMOs, Lineage is primarily an Asian phenomenon. That doesn’t mean it should be shunned, of course, but just that it may be difficult to understand when you’re on the outside of it.

So let’s back up the memory truck to September 1998, when a then-fledgling NCsoft rolled out a Diablo-style isometric MMO and struck virtual gold in South Korea. At the time, gaming rooms were becoming a huge thing in the country. A recession had hit, giving people a lot of time with nothing to do, and the government was rapidly expanding the broadband network. In the face of this perfect storm, titles like StarCraft and Lineage became overnight household fixtures — and remained so for decades to come.

Even if you haven’t played Lineage and you don’t know anyone who does, trust me: Millions and millions of players have. As former Senior Producer Chris Mahnken once said, “Lineage keeps going because it’s just plain fun.”

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Guild Wars 2 used client-side spyware to aid its latest purge of potential cheaters

ArenaNet’s just gone on a purge of potential cheaters in Guild Wars 2.

“Yesterday we suspended 1,583 accounts for a period of 6 months,” Gaile Gray wrote on the forums. “1516 accounts were suspended because we detected that the accounts were running Guild Wars 2 at the same time as one or more of the following programs over a significant number of hours during a multi-week period earlier this year. We targeted programs that allow players to cheat and gain unfair gameplay advantages, even if those programs have other, more benign uses.” Those programs included CheatEngine, Nabster, GW2MHRexe, UNF, and MMOMINION.

The upset in the community, of course, is that the banned players didn’t necessarily use the programs in conjunction with the game. So not only does ArenaNet acknowledge that the programs it banned for have innocent uses, but it also admits that it doesn’t actually know whether the banned players used them in GW2.

Of course, to know what it does know, ArenaNet apparently stealth-installed de facto spyware as part of its early March update. A Redditor named fwosar, who happens to be a skilled at software reverse engineering, dug into the files to figure out how ArenaNet did it.

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PAX East 2018: An interview with the big griffon statue

Everyone knows that the various people portraying characters at PAX East are just there to portray a character. That’s not who they really are. Just because an attractive young woman is dressed up as a character in a way that cleverly circumvents the event’s ostensible policy against “booth babes” does not mean that she is actually a bounty hunter, for example. (She could be, though. We’ve all got side hustles.) So it should come as no great surprise that the Guild Wars 2 griffon was itself playing a part, just like the other actors on the floor.

I was lucky enough to sit down for an interview with “Feathers” (it specified that its real name would break my eardrums) on the show floor, and since I was sitting very still to avoid triggering its instinctive hunting reflexes, I could also record everything it said perfectly. So please, to cap off our PAX East experience, enjoy my interview with this mythical creature of sand and wind.

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Perfect Ten: Why trend-chasing doesn’t work at all for online games

Video games have always been a remarkably insular field; that’s the nature of development. Someone produces Super Mario Bros, and a few years later Sonic the Hedgehog sounds like a really good idea for some reason. But then you have games like The Great Giana Sisters, games that don’t try to just copy parts of what made the inspiration good but just copy the whole thing with one or two changes.

For normal video games, this can work out decently; a game that just doesn’t get much traction still sells some copies, hopefully. Just because Croc wasn’t Spyro didn’t mean that no one bought the former. But for online games, these trend-chasing games are almost always dramatic failures that litter the landscape. Why is that? Well, there are pretty good reasons, and today seems like a good time to talk about that.

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Guild Wars 2 has completely overhauled gathering tools with glyph upgrades and wardrobe implementation

A couple of weeks ago, a nasty patch bug borked up harvesting tools in Guild Wars 2. Hardest hit were the endless-use versions that run a thousand gemmies in the cash shop. Obviously, ArenaNet fixed all that. Today’s patch goes a step further toward making the tools much cooler by adding them to the wardrobe, meaning all your toons can spew lava and toot fireflies while hacking away at rocks.

“You can change their appearance with transmutation charges the same way you do your armor, weapons, and backpacks: open the Wardrobe in your Hero panel, click on an equipped tool, and select a skin you’ve unlocked. The preview will display each tool’s on-use effect. You can use gathering tool skins across your entire account, and they can be applied to limited-use tools as well as unlimited tools.”

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PAX East 2018: Guild Wars 2 game director Mike Zadorojny on Path of Fire, monetization, and more

It’s not every day that you walk into a building dominated by an enormous griffon, the enormous statue replicating the mount in Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire. You could, of course, argue that the griffon is functionally an upgraded version of the glider from Heart of Thorns, but that just brings you back to the idea that Path of Fire is closer to what people wanted from Heart of Thorns in the first place. It’s a bigger expansion for people not interested in the rather narrow focus of the jungle.

Which makes sense, since according to the game director, Mike Zadorojny, the focus of what the expansion was meant to be about was radically different between the two expansions, and Path of Fire was closer to an expansion of the base game.

I had the chance to sit with Zadorojny and chat about various issues of both current development ant future direction, although we did not have that chat on the back of the griffon. (There were people waiting in line.) But considering the nature of the griffon and the talk, it might have been appropriate.

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