Thursday, 27 September 2012

[GW2] It's Big, sure, But I've seen Bigger

A few days ago my brother, in one of his typically off-the-cuff ways, said to me - "it's good, but there isn't as much to do as Guild Wars 1 is there?". I grunted, not necessarily in agreement, but not totally in disagreement either.

It's not a criticism of the game, as such, just an observation of where we stand right now. Guild Wars was a reasonably big game when prophecies came out - with the PvE campaign and numerous PvP formats to get to grips with (TA, HA, RA and GvG). Each year following the release the game was further expanded - Sorrow's Furnace, Factions, Nightfall, Eye of the North and the Guild Wars Beyond features added substantive content to an already jam-packed game. Hard mode effectively doubled the amount of PvE content available in one fell swoop and PvP has expanded to additional game modes such as AB and HB.

There isn't as much to do right now in Guild Wars 2 as there was at the end of Guild Wars 1. But Guild Wars 1 had the benefit of almost three quarters of a decade of updates, expansion and fine-tuning. If the new game starts off with even half of the current content that the original game has, then, after a year or two GW2 will end up being a game world of absolutely mind-boggling proportions.

ps. that last sentence was a bitch to write.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

[GW2] Monetization

Phew-ee honestly, I put my head down for a few hours and the internet explodes.

Last night a GW2 YouTuber posted to the official forums stating that his videos had been flagged for using copyrighted content. This means that the YouTuber has chosen to "monetize" his videos which, it seems, is against the GW2 terms of use and the video has subsequently been requested (by whomever) to be removed.

ANet's official response was:

"You cannot use the monetization system for YouTube or other services. In order words, you cannot make money from our products. YouTube will often note that someone has monetized copyright content, and they will summarily (and properly) close the videos or close the accounts of those involved. You don’t mention if you were using the monetization system, but if you were, you should close the video and re-upload without monetization, or you should disable monetization through the YouTube interface. Now, I should say that this policy may be adjusted in some ways, in the future. We will be sure to let people know if the policies change. But at the current time, that is what is stated in the Guild Wars 2 Content Terms of Use and that is what should be observed."

And so the internet exploded - "ANet are killing E-Sports, ANet are crippling the YouTube community etc". It was all very typically theatrical. Woes, blasphemy, oh the pain.

Thankfully, ever the voice of reason, WoodenPotatoes came out with this response:

Allaying most people's fears. The jist being - those YouTubers who monetize their videos (and are the ones who are affected by this policy) are not the ones who make a living from them, and those who do make a living from their videos are usually "partnered" and so are covered to post content such as GW2 and other copyrighted games.

I can't pretend I've known about NCSoft's (and it is NCSoft's) policy against copyright, I've just avoided monetizing the few videos I've put out simply because I know what a minefield it can be, but also because I would make a pittance (I barely hit 50 views on most of my vids). The whole monetizing system is fairly complicated anyway - any legal mumbo-jumbo is confusing to the lay man such as myself so it's entirely understandable that people, up until now, weren't aware of the rules. But I suppose the thing to remember is this:

NCSoft have sanctioned a large scale and very expensive MMO with a financial view to be funded by the original sales alone. This, therefore, is not likely to be a big earner. You can understand if they're going to be iffy about letting people make money off it left right and centre - however small that income may be.

ps. notice my use of Z in monetize. That's for my fans across the pond (*pat chest, point at the sky*) much love my brothers.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

[GW2] Illogical Prices on the Trading Post

I wonder if whether the problem with the Trading Post is that the automatic reaction when you go to sell an item is to hit "match lowest price" - regardless of what that price is. The obvious incentive is to sell quickly, but without compromising on price by listing lower than everyone else.

But if everyone does this the price of items will never change, and some items are vastly overpriced.
Looking at gw2tp, I can see that Copper Ore, even though it is the most "available" item (currently just under 1.2m units on the market, almost twice a many as the second place item - Iron) is also still priced at 20 coins (at the time of writing), this is over 3x the price of Iron.

I imagine the price difference is partly because Copper is one of the items in the most demand - but even with this in mind, with the sheer quantity available on the market - you think the price would be considerably lower.

Even if someone were to start undercutting the price of copper in an attempt to drive the price down, they'd have to have enough other players doing the same thing so that the new price "caught on" with the players hitting "match lowest price" before all the units were snapped up by people looking to buy the cheapest materials.

In practice, the situation is probably unchangeable; Copper will always be in high demand due to the number of people dabbling in the lower ranks of crafting where Copper is so prevalent in recipes. Whereas, the higher leveled materials will be still abundant on the market, but there will be far fewer people who can craft recipes using theses higher leveled materials.
So, you'll get the odd situation where the high level materials are going for dirt cheap, but the most basic materials are extortionate. This will make it a pain for people wanting to get into crafting from the start because you'll either have to pay through the nose for the mats or go out and gather them all for yourself. Compound this with the fact that people are selling their crafted items for LESS than the merchant price (when taking into account the listing cost) and investing my hard earned silver into crafting is looking less and less attractive.

Hopefully, in a couple of months we'll find that the market calms down and starts following some kind of logic (if you can't already tell, I've got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about the whole "selling for effectively less than than the merchant price" thing).

Saturday, 8 September 2012

[GW2] Early Impressions

The title of this post is, obviously, a little misleading. We've been beta and stress testing this game for months, but I've certainly noticed that the whole game feels different when you know your accomplishments aren't going to be wiped out after Sunday evening. Nevertheless, I'm going to approach this like this is a whole new game.

As MMO launches go, it has been a mixed bag. I'm going to avoid the negatives so early in the post, (though, believe me, they are there) and instead focus on the positives (of which there are a great deal more).

The world is beautiful, there is no avoiding it. From the sweeping hillsides of Kryta, to the icy slopes of the Shiverpeaks, the whole world shines and screams quality. It is a fantastic world in which to play, and I love every second of exploration, combat and story. I haven't experienced any graphical glitches or even that much lag since launch which even more impressive considering some of the high-population fights in which I embroiled myself.

The combat is, as promised, very active. Even the simple addition of the dodge mechanic makes the whole experience of fighting an enemy much more dynamic and reactive. Add in the skill combos (where one player might lay down a fire wall, and another will shoot through it - imbuing their shots with flame) and ground-targeted healing and you discover that Guild Wars 2 combat is all about movement, positioning and watching your surroundings/target. You will know when a troll is about to unleash his power-attack, it's best to roll out the way!

The dynamic events work perfectly. Easy to follow and pick up, fun and challenging at the same time. I was in one of the mid-level zones earlier today, trying to wipe out a camp of Centaur. Each preliminary quest was nicely signposted, and the main quest NPCs always made their way back to a town in the center of the map before setting off for the next phase - so the whole story was easy to follow and pick up half-way.
One criticism I would have is that it isn't always clear what the impact on the world will be. Take the above quest, once we'd worked our way through all the prelim quests, it was time to assault the main base - by this time we'd gathered quite a crowd, so we swept through the Centaur camp in no time, and then wiped out their Chieftain. We got our quest reward, and... then sort of... wandered off. I couldn't see any noticeable change to the zone at all - no extra merchants, no reduced centaur activity, just a sort of petering out. I think, perhaps, the impact on the world should be listed under your quest rewards "1048 Karma, 2000 Exp, 91 coins - due to the ease in centaur activity, trade routes are now open - Marta the Ale-Hound will now sell her ale at a reduced price!". Just a suggestion.

I'm really enjoying my personal story, and I find that I'm doing the heart quests and dynamic events simply to level up and reach the required level to progress with my storyline. The characters are colourful and believable (particularly fond of the Order of Whisp... *Cough* I mean, Order, what Order?). I'm intruiged to see how my choices will impact upon my experience, I've already met the Knight I saw in my dream - but I haven't yet seen how my choices of "Cycle of Night" and "Act with knowledge, but act" affect it.

I do, however, have a couple of criticisms: where is my home instance? Do I even need to go there? I've never been compelled to go and have a look around. Ok, I'm being glib, I know I have one and I've seen it, but I wish it were a more prominent part of the story (it is my home, after all!).
I also don't think the personal story is the most inclusive element of the game. I know you can bring your friends along - but unless they are following the exact same storyline, they will not gain any benefit from tagging along and experiencing it with you, and so it makes it difficult to convince people to stop what they're doing and come along to give you a hand. It's not a huge issue for me - the quests are balanced to be completed alone and I quite enjoy the freedom of gallivanting about on my own - but it just doesn't seem to fit with ANet's ethos of inclusion.

I love crafting, and I´m sure I´ll love it even more if the trading post can stay open for more than half an hour. I like the discovery system, and I also quite enjoy going out and finding the recipes held by certain karma vendors - adds a certain element of discovery to the already discovery-heavy feature. I´ve so far invested mostly in leatherworking (simply for convenience, I thought at first, but I´ve far outlevelled my ability as a craftsman simply because you can´t level crafting all that quickly without unlimited access to the trading post.

Anyway, they´re early impressions. I´ve loved my time in the game, can´t wait to get home and play more!

Gotta dash, on my hols and theres 8 seconds of my time le

[edit - home now!]

...eft on this pay-per-minute computer.


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