Since my last edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, ArenaNet has released the eagerly anticipated camera patch, and I have been squealing with delight while enjoying the new character-specific perspective these controls have given me. The relatively simple new camera toolset makes me very excited for the future of Guild Wars 2, as familiar areas in Tyria now feel very different depending on which of my characters I play.
Before launching into my rather gushing rambles about the Lock to Character Height and First Person options, however, I should briefly highlight that the patch did cause a number of serious ongoing issues. I had anticipated the odd bug or two when the patch was initially delayed from its original launch date of March 10th; I’m very sympathetic to development delays and the occasional glitch since I work in game development myself (it’s not an MMO) and have been in this boat before. Having said that, this patch caused a surprising number of serious bugs that really should have been squashed before the patch ever was exposed to the masses.
Some of you may have already stumbled across the admittedly limited problem masterlist that Zietlogik compiled over on the forums; the post is 8 days old at the time of writing, yet only a small fraction of the listed issues have been hotfixed as yet. The GW2 Reddit community have been debating over whether ANet’s attempts to fix the framerate issues the patch introduced have been successful or not, with players reporting very mixed results. I hope this isn’t a sign of what state the company’s first expansion will release in and the severity of the inevitable bugs it will introduce.
OK, time for both krewe and bookahs alike to get comfy and listen to my yammerin’ about the awesomeness that is the first-person camera. As I mentioned in the last edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m a rather wee lass; climbing on counters to fetch my morning cuppa and jumping off my daily train to the city in order to reach the platform are firm parts of my daily routine, and I frequently lose my fiancé in public places because I can’t see past the crowd or the topography. I have been known to pull people down to my view level when they exclaim, “Can’t you see that?” or “How can you not reach that?”
It’s amazing how shocked those people are when they actually experience for themselves the perspective difference that losing over a foot of height grants. Suddenly they can imagine how using the sink can soak their top as they lean across to reach the taps, they can see that kitchen cabinets are laughably out of reach, and they know that a “twenty minute” walk will likely take double that time. Height seems like such a trivial thing when the world is built for your particular size, but if you find yourself at either extreme end of the scale, then the way in which you experience and interact with the world around you is fundamentally different. Thanks to the game’s new camera controls, this same perspective shift can be experienced in Guild Wars 2.
To showcase the difference in perspective I deal with on a daily basis, I took to the streets of Divinity’s Reach on both my lovable little Asura and Brendan’s lusciously leggy Sylvari to see how different that wheel-shaped cultural melting pot of a city seems to different races. I firstly logged into my Asura, aware that the historically human-sized city was going to look vast, uninviting, and intimidating to a little thing like Tinabeans. She approached a bar that came above her head height and wasn’t even able to order the drink she wanted, then tried to reach a breakfast roll on a table that stood as tall as she did and had to jump to even vaguely reach it.
Surrounded by colossal statues and dwarfed by chairs made for creatures twice her size, Tinabeans gazed up at the city dwellers who made her seem childlike and frail in comparison. She had quite the adventure trying to fit into a world that was so much larger that she is; that Asuran confidence and independence quickly filled the space that Tinabeans didn’t quite fill though!
I then logged in as Lillabelle, who’s a shortarse by Sylvari standards but nevertheless one who towers over my own pocket-sized pal, and I had her explore and interact with many of the same objects and environments. Lillabelle looked that same barman right in the eye, able to order a drink without a hunk of wood in her way. She peered down at the same goodie-laden table, able to take her pick of the delectable treats that were out of reach to Tinabeans, and she wasn’t left standing in the shadows of the city’s inhabitants she passed on her travels. Lillabelle seemed much more at home at The Reach, and the space feels much more reserved and manageable when viewed through Sylvari eyes.
Nothing seems too much or too grand when it is scaled to suit your needs, and the first-person camera puts everything in perspective. Even for a relatively tall character, the scale of The Reach lends to a sense of pride and grandeur; the beautifully tall archways and lofty buildings of the city are much better appreciated from the first-person perspective with the camera truly taking the place of the character’s eyes instead of a vaguely average position or over-the-shoulder view.
To say I adore this look at GW2‘s virtual world through the eyes of my beloved characters is an understatement: This patch paves the way for increased awareness of the personal journeys of other people and could be the first step toward a future in which virtual reality technology could really make the players feel a part of Tyria. When people can explore a virtual world from so many unique perspectives, it may also help them empathise with other people in their real-world social sphere who see their shared spaces with an equally unique perspective. Having Tinabeans show Lillabelle around Divinity’s Reach felt just like how I drag people down to my level when they can’t see the world from my point of view.
The new camera controls don’t just increase the opportunity for pretty screenshots without a character’s head in the way; they allow the player to get an even better understanding of how their characters might see their surroundings and how they interact with that world and its inhabitants, making exploration all the richer and the relationships formed between the player and his character all the more pertinent. I can only imagine how much stronger this effect could be with the inclusion of VR technology, and it makes me feel like begging the smart cookies at ANet to make it happen. Then you could actually assume your character’s unique perspective as your own, breaking down the barrier between the real and virtual worlds even further.