Friday, July 26, 2013

Necromancer... just... can't... dig it

I have seven level 80 toons. This is the last type: necromancer. I'm trying to get into it but though I'm at level 18, I really don't like playing her.

It's not cause she's a caster. So is the mesmer and I love the mesmer. The necromancer is just burdened down with a lot of gimmicks and I've never liked gimmicks.

So looking back across the other seven, I see that I favor the ones with a lot of mobility and options. I like the guardian. I like the warrior. I like the ranger and the thief, the engineer and the mesmer.

Now the seventh one turns out to be the first one I rolled: elementalist. I got my elementalist to 80 but I hated it all the way there. In that case I think it's just that it felt too much like a WoW mage. That's the only class in WoW I never leveled to the max. The elementalist also has some gimmicks, but I don't think that's my problem with it. I just didn't find it fun...lots of casting and AOE. Meh.  If I'm going to be a squishy caster, I want to support. I want to heal (LOL or WoW) or CC. At least the elementalist has some nice support stuff, though, to be honest, the engineer is best at that.

Now I could be wrong about the necromancer. I've looked at videos and even the pro guys just don't make it look like much fun. Here, let my eastern European friend rap it down for you. I get it. I get that power goes with axe and focus in OH, and it's about burst. I get that condition dmg goes with sustainability with scepter and pistol in OH. I will continue to try... sigh.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Night Vale Dog Park Secret Police

I need to create a guild with that name, or maybe Radon Canyon Pink Floyd Festival.

[Night Vale, listen to it via iTunes podcast.]

Sunday, July 07, 2013


Just played a round of LOL (League of Legends) and finally did a good job! Read the chat.

The Pro Social Side of Gaming No One Ever Talks About

One of my earliest memories of WoW, probably from around Fall 2005, is buff envy. I had rolled a warlock, and I was trotting down a pathway in fairly low level zone, when I heard a sound and noticed a new item had appeared above my action bar. Coincidently, I had just run past a mage running the other way, who had raised  his arms as he approached me. Turns out what he did was buff me. He cast a beneficial enchantment on me. I thought that was so cool. He just did it, unasked. I searched my spells for something I could buff people with and found nothing. As a warlock all I'd ever have would be underwater breathing, a great spell... if you're underwater.

Ever since then I've always looked for and highly regarded the ability to buff/bless other players. When you work within a guild or on a dungeon run in a party made of many other players, you buff each other. It's not just the cultural norm or the etiquette of play, it actually helps the likelihood of a successful encounter. But, I have to say it feels even better when you're buffing strangers. It's a true, free, random act of kindness then.

I've encountered such gifts in every MMO I've played, and I'm pleased to report they exist in Guild Wars 2, too. However, the reach of the gift is even greater, and it's clearly both a game norm and a status element. Rather than buff other players, which you can do but which tends to arise passively as a consequence of a skill point you've spec'd into, in GW2 your guild can create small iconic banners which bear the crest of the guild and dispense buffs of various kinds. To be able to fashion these banners, a guild needs to accumulate points from activity and achievements. Once they create a banner, and place it, it lasts for about 30 minutes and will dispense a buff to anyone who touches it. Popular buffs are summarized in this description of the ultimate banner, which bundles them all:

spawns a guild banner that will give +10% karma, +15% magic find, +10% experience from kills, +10% gold from kills, +10% increased movement speed, and +15% gathering chance to any ally that touches it for 30 minutes.

As with most MMOs, there are places where people gather in great numbers. Often, this is in the plaza of a central city, usually near the bank and auction house, which are typically in proximity to one another for obvious reasons. In the good old days of WoW, Iron Forge was one such city, and so great was the gathering of people there that it was typically referred to as Lag Forge because of the server lag created by the huge number of people moving about in the area.

In GW2 there are four main cities: three capitals, one for each race, and a worldwide capital. The action is mostly in Lion's Arch, the worldwide capital. This week, our guild, the Most Popular Girls in School, unleashed its first public banner in front of the bank. It offers a 5% buff to karma. (Click to enlarge). It sports our guild logo, the friendly beaver (um, yeah, we did that), and it announces to the world that our guild has arrived. This sort of incentivizes a guild to reach the level where it can offer such banners, not just for the benefit of the guild players, but as an act of kindness for the MMO world.

So what do I mean "no one ever talks about?" We hear a lot about killing and violence in video games; we hear about them as isolating and full of angry, hostile, young male players. That may be true for games like Call of Duty, Gears of War, Modern Warfare, or other XBox live networked game play. But most MMOs are actually inviting, friendly, worlds. It may be because the average age of MMO players tends to be 32ish, and hopefully the trash talking and misogyny is lessened, but I think it's because of the world-ness factor. CoD and similar games rely on temporary player vs player team play. You and your buddies might usually play together but you're usually not part of a larger guild, and you're not involved in a larger, enduring world of other players. I think virtual worlds scaffold social culture better because there's more to the game play than fighting. In fact, there's a lot of time spent not fighting, e.g., in captial cities. This, and the fairly traditional, omnipresent buffing/blessing concept that is part of a world culture, tend to cultivate a self-reinforcing, pro-social, play space.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Meanwhile... Mesmer

I seriously did NOT mean to dress her like this.  She's a mesmer, and I had bought what I thought would be awesome armor 'cause it was named "profane armor" skins. Well, it looks great on a guy, but they made it trampy for girl toons. Grrr sexist game devs. But you know, once I got it I needed to find some toon to wear it. Seemed to fit the mesmer vibe.

On the upside, I ran across the most articulate and thorough video guide to a toon that I've ever seen, and lucky for me it was about mesmers. I already have 6 level 80s. This mesmer has been hanging around at lvl 22 as a joke for quite a while. She's named for one of the characters in the web series Most Popular Girls in School. I link it here but I also warn you that almost every other word is the f* bomb. Don't blame me; I warned you. It's hilarious though, acted out with Barbie dolls.

Anyhow, here's the awesome mesmer video guide. Get this... it's in four parts. Followed his play style advice and good golly, this toon is fun to play. Like the guardian, it's hard to kill, and a great support toon because of the damage mitigation that can be shared with others. So, I'm playing her and having fun. She's about level 36 now.

Monday, July 01, 2013

How Arenanet (Guild Wars 2) Makes Money with a No-subscription MMO

Buy it once; play it forever.
Yep. Just spent about $20 to buy account bound armor skins for two toons. Steampunk, bro!