Thursday, 30 June 2011

Gemeinschaft - What Guild Wars has which the World Lacks

Ferdinand Tönnies stated that the new world order had no time for personable relationships, no time for exploring community and companionship. It was an alienated world, to put it Marx-ly. One where you are separated from your kin, separated from your craft and certainly separated from your community. He called this state "Gesselschaft" - a world where individuals act purely upon self interest. The ying to this yang is "Gemeinschaft", a state where individuals act in favour of the community (in fact, gemeinschaft is often translated directly into community), they work towards common goals and expectations.Tonnies stated that, in our world, Gesselschaft is increasingly replacing Gemeinschaft.

[/sociology lesson]

When I started blogging last November I kinda jumped in blind. I started off by flailing wildly into the communities with which I was most involved - Guild Wars and Alternative Reality Gaming. This gained me a few views here and there; the unFiction lot are an incredibly passionate bunch, but the community is solely centered around 2/3 core websites and these are somewhat difficult to crack. Since then my interest in ARGs has waned but my interest in Guild Wars has waxed, this significant waxing has been assisted by, quite frankly,  a staggeringly receptive blogging community.

The Guild Wars bloggers (without, hopefully, offending too many of them) are a friendly bunch; quirky, chatty, sometimes foul mouthed and opinionated; they are the backbone of the community which surrounds this game. They disperse information, conduct interviews, analyse media releases, corral opinions and rationalise the sometimes rather erratic behaviour of this burgeoning gaming populace. They put a staggering amount of effort into providing not only a valuable information resource for old and new players, but also creating a space in which social interaction can take place.

The MMO community can be a barren and unfriendly place. If you've ever frequented a gaming forum you will know that gamers, by and large, are not the most understanding of groups. They may seem to be a largely reward driven bunch, interested in self-advancement and self-preservation above all things. On the surface the MMO community is Gesselschaft in it's purest - only in it for themselves.

Having looked at the Guild Wars community of bloggers, contributors and other writers; having seen the effort they go to, the time they spend and the zeal with which they approach their work (for little to no reward), I really think Tonnies would call this a step towards Gemeinschaft.

PS. a couple of weeks ago, in an interview with Cornish, Tasha asked if he thought there was room for more bloggers in the GW community. I agree with Cornish that yes, the more the merrier. So, if you are considering getting involved I would encourage you to take the plunge (You don't have to start your own site, you could start by submitting a couple of articles to Talk Tyria or to me!). You won't regret it.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

How the Dervish Lost its Whirl

Hooded against the hot Elonian sands they slash their way to the center of a pack, twirling their scythes in high arcs; cutting great swathes of opponents down like sheaves of corn. They bend sand, earth, dust, wind and even light to their will. They invoke the power of the six Gods to fill their bodies with divine energy; assuming the form of Godly avatars to further enhance their ferocity. With all this power at their disposal; is there anything the Dervish can't do?

Well, apart from make the transition from Guild Wars to its sequel, of course.

Why not? Almost all of the core professions (bar the obviously Monkly odd one out) have made the leap, and we can see elements of the Paragon in the Guardian, the Ritualist in the Engineer and the Assassin in the Thief. How is it that the Dervish has drawn the short straw? Aside from the gameplay balance considerations, there are also significant lore-based influences on the choice to leave the Dervish at home when GW2 comes out to play.

It is well documented that, following Nightfall, the Six Gods have been increasingly withdrawn from human affairs. A significant section of the human race have even began to doubt whether the Gods have any interest in humanity at all. In "Against the Wall: Humanity in Guild Wars" we can hear a snippet of conversation taken from a human settlement:

A: Just because proof is not immediately apparent, doesn't mean it's not there.
B: What prayers have they answered for you lately? What miracles performed?

It makes sense that, in a world where the influence of the Gods felt by the people is dwindling day by day, a class of fighter which draws its might from the power borrowed from the Gods would also begin to die out.Without the Gods there to fuel their enchantments, the Dervish is little more than a human in a skirt wielding a farming tool.

That is also a significant problem with the Dervish; their powers were drawn from ostensibly human Gods.
For the most part, the other races of Tyria accept the existence of the six Gods; the Norn see them as an extension of their Spirits of the Wild, the Charr see them as powerful beings, but focus mainly upon Melandru as the creator of the world, the Asura see the Six as another part in the Eternal alchemy. The only race not to have experience of the Gods are the Sylvari, but they've not really been around long enough to form an opinion on the matter. It is only Humanity which worships them as the six Gods which created and govern the world.
With this in mind, it would be very difficult to justify a player of another race abandoning their religious beliefs in order to follow the Six's guidance and become a Dervish. The Norn and Asuran religion is central to their race as a whole, it is difficult to imagine a Norn without their dedication to the bear spirit and you can hardly imagine an Asura going an hour without mentioning the Eternal Alchemy. Conversely, the Charr, following the events in Eye of the North, have rejected the influence of the Gods - having been burnt one too many times with their experience with the Titans and then with the Destroyers.

To force the profession to deal with all these competing influences would probably create a class which would, in attempting to resolve and incorporate each race's religious leanings, end up very scattered and without focus - which is certainly an end which ANet want to avoid at all costs.

The Dervish was a fun class to play in Guild Wars, and will certainly be missed by a significant number of players. ArenaNet are no doubt hoping that former Dervishes will find a new home with the Warrior or Guardian and will not feel too hard done by. If you still feel a little miffed about the loss of your holy-warrior, never fear, you may have missed this years West Country Scything championship, but there's always next year!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

I am GWetarded

Well, it didn't take long.  Having written this post naught but four days ago, I have been once again gripped by my old nemesis Guild Wars.
I figured, well - that Survivor title ain't gonna survive itself, is it?


Major fail.

I was typing out this post with guild wars minimised in the background.
Having just worked my way through a few worms, feeling pretty good with myself having reached 500k.
I was holding my vampiric weapon.

It's back to the void for you good sir!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

It's like Kettering but with fewer Ogres

I'm stuck, thoroughly bogged down in a mire of "meh". I'm pretty much up to my neck in apathy. I really can't find any motivation to play Guild Wars right now. I can see the loooooong expanse of Legendary Survivor ahead of me and I know lying on the otherside is crazy hero builds (which might fail and get me killed), random farming (which might fail and get me killed) and UW runs (which will fail and get me killed, believe me!).

Having got to 900k before and lost it, and being only 3 maxed titles away from gaining God Walking Amongst Mere Mortals; I really can't give up on Survivor now. But the halls of Fronis' lair are so dark and dank, the icy wastes of the worm fields are lonely and barren, and it'll be a dark day in hell if I ever go back to fighting the Vaettirs.

So, until the feeling takes me (or they bring out Winds of Change) my Ranger will remain trapped in unplayed avatar limbo.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Chris Trout

"...enjoy it, go out, have fun, live your life as you would. "Carpe Diem" that was my Mum's favourite expression which just simply means "seize the day". And.. err... the second is; next time you see someone you love, someone that you care about, someone who you appreciate just tell them that you love them, and err... how lost you would be without them in your life... and that's pretty much all I have to say."

It's rare that you come across such a heartfelt expression of feelings on the internet. Chris Trout, over the top of pwnage, has managed to express how I've felt over the past year, with everything that has happened.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Quiver me Timbers

Tap: We know this has been asked before, but will rangers have quivers?

Jon P: We would like to have quivers and they are being worked on, but I can’t say for certain how they will work. The engineer backpack is kind of like a prototype for quivers so it’s become more likely, but isn’t guaranteed.

Ranger - possibly making a comeback as my favourite GW2 profession with this simple statement?

Full interview - here

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Nintendo's Lack of imagination @ E3

Having watched the entirety of the Nintendo conference at E3 I have to say - I'm very underwhelmed.

Budding game designer: Hey wouldn't it be awesome if we released some new games, I've got this amazing idea for one where you role play an elephant who has to battle an army of crack addict mice!
*Nintendo exec lowers pistol*
Exec: Moar. Mario.

And more Zelda, Luigi, Pitt, Starfox, Mariokart.

I have an image of the Nintendo head office in my head: picture a long thin room with hundreds of desks, this is the "idea" room; where all the Nintendo game designers come to work their craft. Each designer sits at a desk with a single pad of paper (with the Nintendo logo at the top and a smiling - almost maniacally smiling - Mario face at the bottom) and a pencil. The walls are adorned with Mii characters, all smiling and saying phrases like "we value your creativity" and "hang in there baby!". The workers sit sullen faced and in silence, with their hands flat on the desk. Occasionally one will glance around and then return his eyes to the pad in front of him. When one designer picks up his pencil, the sound of the wood scraping against the desk is audible across the room - he immediately puts the pencil down and places his head in his hands, weeping.
At the front of the room is a wall with 3 slots in it and a big sign which says "IDEAS!" - under which the Mii character posters are almost life size and they are saying things such as "Oh! That's a brilliant one!" and "Wow - only you could think of that! Good job!". The slots are labelled as follows:

  • Zelda
  • Mario
  • Incinerator

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Out with the Stats, in with the Feel

They say that only three things are certain: lies, damn lies and statistics. Numbers and statistics bind you to a constant quest to get that +1, that extra little bit on top of what you already have. Often this quest comes at the expense of enjoyment. How often have you heard people on forums and in game groan about the need to grind to attain this, or to farm to obtain that?

Statistics are an easy fall back concept, they provide that drive for players to keep playing and to keep striving to attain the "best stats". It's not just a compunction held solely by MMO players; having spent the past few weeks playing FIFA Ultimate team, I've realised that those little numbers mean a whole lot to gamers.

1.85m? That's like a WHOLE lotta game time.

My point isn't, I suppose, that statistics and numbers are a bad game mechanic. Of course they have their plus sides. I do, however, wish there was more of an emphasis on how a character/player feels. Perhaps you stumble across a lower league Norwegian player who, in your hands, is a complete goal-scoring machine. This would be the kind of emergent gameplay discovery which would inject some enjoyment back into gaming for me.

Guild Wars 2, of course, is trying to put a bit of "feel" back into gaming. By doing away with the trinity and allowing players to create ad-hoc groups, I'm really hoping that GW2's players will appreciate how their character feels as opposed to what armour rating their +5 helmet of sarcasm is.


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