Unexpected Consequences in Online Gaming

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Article three in a series on human culture in Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming.

JackInBoxQuestion-300x300, http://www.chiliad.com/unintended-consequences/The one thing you can count on when human beings take their culture online is unexpected consequences! As online games first appeared and then Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG’s) gained popularity in the 1990’s this “rule” was very much in operation, sending development teams spinning more than once as they tried to put a stop to damaging consequences, encourage other surprising forms of expression in games, or to start regulating a developing black market for game gold or items. To this day unexpected results are a frequent topic of questions and discussions on game development, and regulation of this aspect of human interaction is a high priority.

Fishing in <i>Ultima Online</i>

Eliare the fisherwoman in Ultima Online.

Games were designed to spin around heroic conflicts or even just simple socialization with activities. Richard Garriott reported in an appearance in Warren Spector’s Lecture #12, that he was astounded to find that things like completely unadorned, 50/50-chance fishing activities were very popular aspects of a game like Ultima Online, but had been totally unintended as a player profession. Also, in-game player trading and rudimentary player economies developed despite the fact that no actual player to player trade economy or mechanics had been developed yet. (Warren Spector Lecture #12, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBjUdnAt1GM, 1:44:00.) It seems that player economies and professions may be fundamental elements of human culture online and that creative player pursuits will sprout up even when the game mechanics for it haven’t even been set in place.

In addition, the fast response time a MMOG population exhibits to a change in its environment becomes a seed bed for human experimentation and interactions – both positive and negative. I have seen many a young person experimenting with social boundaries in behavior as they grew up inside the games they played. The same goes for larger social experiments, something that was also noted in Richard Garriott’s appearance in the Warren Spector Lectures series when they discussed the US Department of Defense’s interest in the environment of a MMOG to see how humans responded to various social stimuli. Speaking to that interest in MMO’s, Richard Garriott said, “As a place to simulate cause and effect, MMO’s represent a very interesting platform.” He also stated that, “The science of our industry absolutely has broad-based applications in, uh, social experiments like that.” (Warren Spector Lecture #12, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBjUdnAt1GM, 2:44:00.)

<i>Second Life</i> Press Image #1, 500x300, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindenlab/9243709604/sizes/m/in/set-72157633789899717/"><br /></a>

Second Life players in a constructed pool.

Unexpected consequences have even been used as the very foundation of MMOG play in the form of Second Life, to use an established example. Second Life, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in June of 2013, gives you the ability to create your own world along with an ability to earn money. Their in-game currency, “Linden Gold,” has a pre-set trade value to the American dollar, which allowed them to skirt some of the economic issues faced by other MMOG games. In addition, its coding tool set allows players to produce and code their own environments. The entire MMOG game-play is then one huge human creation sandbox that attracted even corporate participation and advertising inside the game. This game is very much about encouraged “unexpected” human activity.

<i>Second Life</i> Press Image 2, 500x300, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindenlab/9243709604/sizes/m/in/set-72157633789899717/"><br /></a>

A Second Life player-coded environment.

Unexpected consequences took a turn for the criminal apparently in a now-closed version of a Sims game. The security technology blogger Bruce Schneier reported that a group developed in-game that extorted game currency from subscribers by using a player feedback pathway to refer to “trusted” and “untrusted” personal contacts. The “Mafia” members would mark a player “untrusted” unless they forked over their hard won game currency, leaving them unable to build a reputation for in-game property procurement or game business transactions. Needless to say, this wasn’t good for game play (http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/11/virtual_mafia_i.html, November 25, 2009).

Unexpected consequences are normally not so negative as the incident I described above. In my own game experiences I have often found some positive unexpected consequences, leaving me in amazement at what humans create for themselves. Unexpected consequences of human culture online are spawning new games, new social communities, new pathways for education, business development, and promoting cross-cultural friendships – all big benefits to my thinking. I think that many others outside of myself see unexpected results as opportunities as much as any issues to be dealt with. When Richard Garriott discovered, to his amazement, a dedicated fisherman in Ultima Online he reported that he thought at the time, “Wow, this game has gone so far beyond what we had ever anticipated it to become!” (Warren Spector Lecture #12, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBjUdnAt1GM, 1:45:30.)

You can hear Richard Garriott and Starr Long relate their own thoughts on human culture in their created games as I interview them live online this Sunday at 5:00 pm EST (GMT-5). They will be appearing as a part of our Stratics’ 16th Anniversary celebration! Come tune in to Stratics while we broadcast between 2:00-8:00 pm EST (GMT-5) with these two interesting men, as well as a whole list of other movers and shakers in the gaming industry!

Starr-Long n Richard Garriott

Starr Long and Richard Garriott of Portalarium, Inc.’s Shroud of the Avatar, will be with us on Sunday, October 20th at 5:00 pm EST (GMT-5).

 

Great Expectations in Online Culture

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GTA5 photo authorized download media

Grand Theft Auto 5. Photo courtesy Rock Star Games

I watched a young man purchase Grand Theft Auto 5 yesterday as I was standing in the checkout line, and he was excitedly talking to the clerk about her experiences with the game, eager to get home and start his own adventures. This is a scene repeated constantly in stores around the globe as new games are released and people who play them share their experiences with each other over phones, counters, keyboards, and tables around the world. I nearly started interviewing them both on the spot, but they looked at me and obviously found it unbelievable that a woman ‘my age’ would know anything about it!

That brings me to my topic, the great expectations humans have on entering their virtual worlds and how human culture is expressed there.

What is culture? Here’s a definition from Merriam-Webster Online:

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cul·ture

noun \ˈkəl-chər\

: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time

: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.

: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture

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I didn’t know what to expect when I first entered a Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG), but I certainly have expectations now. Imagine being a young Richard Garriott as a teenager ‘inventing’ the future Ultima Online! How did he come up with the basic abilities for his game that allowed us to take our culture online? What were his expectations as he programmed this game?

Winter_2004_DreamHack_LAN_Party, Uploaded to English Wikipedia as Dh04w.JPG on 27 Nov 2004 by Toffelginkgo under the GFDL, uploaded to the Commons by Toffelginkgo under CC-BY-SA-1.0, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Winter_2004_DreamHack_LAN_Party.jpg

Users meet up at the Winter 2004 DreamHack LAN Party.

Now, in 2013, I have definite expectations on how a game will present itself to me so I can learn it quickly and chat with my friends, and find my way around the little universe presented there. What do you expect upon entering a new game? Do we all have basic expectations now that facilitate our human culture, or even just our own national culture, playing itself out in a game?

Perhaps we can look at this from what may be needed in a world to allow for culture to flourish. What are the basic things that humans look for? Do we look for basics like food, clothing, and shelter as we would in the real world or is that replaced by some very elemental game mechanics alone? I think all those elements may be there, particularly whenever I make a new character and spend a great deal of time making sure she looks lovely in her new clothing and armor! However, in a game I think there may be a few other things that are required in a basic setup, like:

  1. A way to chat. Humans need to talk!
  2. A way to move around, easily.
  3. A way to interact with things inside the world.
  4. A motivation to be there and come back again.
  5. A reward system for endeavors or another way to feel good about what you’ve done there, and, possibly,
  6. A basic economy and system of trade. Early game producers like Richard Garriott discovered that even without this built into the games people found ways of exchanging items and wanted to do it.
  7. And yes, personally, I need a way to provide basics to my avatar representation of myself… like food, clothing, and shelter!

There, so we have a basic set of expectations established … but is that enough? What else do humans bring with them into any place they go? I think they also need:

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    Wildstar characters at play. Picture Wildstar-online.com.

    A way to group up with friends, make new friends, and be with people you identify with and enjoy spending time with.

  • A way to differentiate yourself from everyone else whether that be by an item you’ve won, or something you have made, or a title you’ve earned in a hard-fought battle.
  • A way to express yourself in celebration or fun, or to woo that really good looking avatar across the room… so perhaps some music or a voice or a set of cool moves your avatar can make to emote or put an emphasis on what you say.
  • Places to go and things to do with the set of friends you develop including a lovely pub or place to chat after you’ve gone and done those things. A place to socialize.

So there… will these 11 things make “culture” in a MMOG?

I think there are a few things I’ve missed and it relates to the young man and woman discussing Grand Theft Auto at the beginning of my story. Humans have a few very basic and inescapable parts of being human. I would list them as:

  1. Gender – Are you male or female and what gender do you want an avatar to be?
  2. Age – We all start out young and then we grow up… and then we grow older. This is reflected in all our lives and art and culture. Its fundamental to who we are, and this sometimes affects what we play and how we play it.
  3. Death – We all die eventually and the games we play tend to have high elements of danger to them. That probably is a given part of a game since it gives it that ‘zing’ we crave. Somewhere along the line we will fail in our quest and be bested by our opponents. Personally, there were certain stories I covered as a game reporter that I simply showed up to already dead just to save time!
  4. Morality and Ethics – There are consequences to our actions as humans and a part of human culture establishes and maintains those consequences along with what we feel are the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things a person can do or be. This gets built into all our games – but not all of them carry consequences for good or bad actions unless you count a ‘crowd-sourced’ ethic that gets carried into the games by the players.
  5. Power Relationships and Hierarchies – Lastly, there is power. Not everyone can be the top dog, unless you are playing a single-player game! Invariably, then, power relationships will come into a game and be a part of it as they are a part of our very real everyday world.
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Cartoon from Common Sense Evaluation contributor “Gags”

We are into a very complex set of conditions now, aren’t we? There is nothing at all simple about human culture and relationships. This article is a totally simplistic representation of what goes into making up a cultural experience with human beings. I hope it exemplifies the complexity a little bit at least, and inspires you to think about the accomplishments games have put forth to bring humans into them and represent something that keeps them coming back. It is no small feat to have created a place for us to go to, live in with avatars, and support our online social groups that play and function there in MMOGs.

In my next article I will go into a few of these aspects of culture a little more in depth and I will also be offering some interviews and questions on game development history with various producers who have given us games that translated human culture into an online experience. I will also be pursuing the idea of culture in online gaming with a special interview during our Stratic’s 16th Anniversary Celebration. I hope you will join us for this very special celebration on October 20th!

Massively: The Daily Grind: Are dynamic events another MMO fad?

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Massively’s Brianna Royce has written an article tackling “Dynamic Events” in Guild wars 2.  Are they truly just a fad and players just don’t see it as that? Are DE’s more than that and bring players together as a community to participate together? Will the traditional questing in MMO’s being put aside for similar  to GW2 “Dynamic Events” type of systems? These and many other questions will be asked by many MMO players around the world with games changing to newer and updated systems for the next generation.

 

 

 

I would like to thank Massively’s Brianna Royce for having such a small but very interesting article.

 

 

The Daily Grind: Are dynamic events another MMO fad?

by Brianna Royce on Oct 5th 2012 8:00AM

 

Are dynamic events another MMO fad?

Move over, MMO story: dynamic events are this season’s buzz word. Popularized by earlier MMOs like Warhammer Online and RIFT, dynamic events have become such an integral part of modern MMO design that brand-new Guild Wars 2 employs them as its central content conceit. Skip dynamic events in GW2 and you’re going to have a rough time leveling (or surviving the ridicule of the commentariat, who consider dynamic events to be far superior to mundane, quest-like renown hearts). Even MMOFPS titles like Firefall are adopting the mechanic for their PvE fans.

But is this actually the type of content we want to see from our MMOs, whatever their flavor? Never mind whether they’re actually dynamic — do you actually think they make for fun, desirable content? Or are we just so sick of themepark-style questing and leveling that we’re willing to accept anything in its stead, even if that “anything” might be a fad akin to MMO story?

What do you think — are dynamic events all that and a bag of chips?
Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today’s Daily Grind!

Surviving Tyria: Beginner’s Guide to Mobility – Enigmius Talks Guild Wars 2

Are you still having trouble with mobility in GW2? Trying to learn how to move and dodge from monsters and players in the game when in battle? Then this video is definitely for you. Its very clear and simple to learn.  on youtube put the video up today and it’s worth watching if you are still trying to learn movement in GW2.

 

 

Thank you Enigmius for having this great tutorial video up for all the fans and players of GW2.

 

 

Surviving Tyria: Beginner’s Guide to Mobility – Enigmius Talks Guild Wars 2

[youtube id="sUKWeaXZeOY" width="600" height="350"]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUKWeaXZeOY&feature=g-all-u

 

Published on Aug 12, 2012 by    

A brief primer on the fundamentals of mobility, intended for players accustomed to a stationary combat style from other games.  Learn some tips to avoid damage in GW2 from both a melee and ranged perspective, as well as how to use AoE fields for soft control.

 

GW2 Stratics Exclusive: Asura Screenshots from GW2 BWE3 Part 3

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In Part 2 I had talked about how exploration in Guild Wars 2 reminded me of the early days of Ultima Online. Even though both games have different camera views exploring in Ultima Online was very important. ArenaNet has really captured that aspect of exploring in the game. I don’t know how many times I hit my space bar jumping in GW2 just to get to areas in the game. Some seemed impossible but I kept hitting my spacebar and sometimes miraculously I made it.

 

 

I found some terrific spots and it just amazed me how the world looks in the game. I have never played any MMO that actually made the world seem so right. If I was high up on a rock or the land, in the distance I could see other players running or fighting and going out of site on my screen.  The environment was done very well. Some areas were hidden by trees or shrubs to get to those high places. I know a couple times my little Asura just fell to his death. ArenaNet developers put tons of time in the land design itself and I personally  thank them for that.

 

 

I hope you enjoy this batch of screen shots for Part 3 and keep an eye out for Part 4 coming soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CharrGaming: FULL HD Guild Wars 2 Beta BWE3 Epic Hunger Games (Royal) Event

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CharrGaming has posted up some videos on youtube for all the GW2 players and fans to enjoy. These are from the past BWE3 weekend.

 

 

Thank you CharrGaming for having these up for all the fans around the world that wait eagerly for the release of Guild wars 2 on August 28th 2012.

 

 

Follow me on live stream: http://twitch.tv/charrgaming
This is the full final event of Guild Wars 2 Beta BWE3. The “Hunger Royal” aka Hunger Games. Really good way to end the beta!

 

Guild Wars 2 Beta BWE3 Epic Hunger Games (Royale) Event – Part 1

 

 

Guild Wars 2 Beta BWE3 Epic Hunger Games (Royale) Event – Part 2

 

Guild Wars 2 Beta BWE3 Epic Hunger Games (Royale) Event – Part 3

 

Guild Wars 2 Beta BWE3 Epic Hunger Games (Royale) Event – Part 4

 

Link Roundup – WvW and Beta by Rubi Bayer

Link Roundup – WvW and Beta by Rubi Bayer February 24th, 2012

Great blog post by Rubi Bayer pulling together the past week’s events and what they have meant for the ArenaNet as well as the GW2 community. You can read the full blog post here: Link Roundup – WvW and Beta – ArenaNet Blog

We here at GW2 Stratics would like to thank ArenaNet and Rubi Bayer for putting together this post highlighting the past week’s events!

Bella

 

For the click link impaired:

 

Link Roundup – WvW and Beta

By Rubi Bayer February 24th, 2012

 

 

 

more on:

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It’s been an incredibly exciting week in the ArenaNet offices, and we were thrilled to see all of you enjoying the festivities along with us.  We had a great response to last weekend’s beta event and this week’s beta signups, so it’s time to take a look at what everyone had to say!

PC Gamer fielded over a dozen reader questions after checking out the beta weekend, and shared some opinions about the Guild Wars 2 overflow servers.  They definitely liked what they saw, saying,  “GW2 is quickly earning its reputation as one of the most forward-thinking MMOs in development right now.”

Over at Massively, Shawn and Elisabeth had lots to say about the beta event. “Let me just say that this past weekend was not only one of the most exciting beta experiences I’ve ever had but that all of my fears about ArenaNet ruining the Guild Wars franchise were quickly squashed,” says Shawn Schuster. Massively took a close look at Guild Wars 2 crafting as well, creating a lengthy guide complete with video in a bonus edition of Flameseeker Chronicles.

MMORPG.com featured extensive coverage of the beta weekend, covering everything from the Ascalon Catacombs to PvP to the starting zones for each race.  Garrett Fuller penned a thoughtful editorial in which he describes how “Guild Wars 2 really has taken innovation to the next step.” In the piece, Fuller says, “The game innovates while paying homage to some amazing game mechanics from the past. It takes great ideas and makes them better. It takes new ideas and is not afraid to serve them up to players.”

Kotaku’s Mike Fahey learned quite a bit over the weekend, calling GW2’s combat “ridiculously entertaining.”  Fahey writes, “The skills and abilities are designed to work together well, launching the player into complicated spells or astounding feats of agility at the press of a button.”

Gamebreaker TV dove headfirst into Guild Wars 2 for the beta weekend, resurfacing with videos and opinions galore. Gamespot’s video clips from the beta weekend show off the human and norn starting areas, a fierce attack on a grawl cave, and some charr gameplay (and gunplay).

Over on the other side of the Atlantic, German sites GameStar and Buffed offered extensive gameplay videos and in-depth commentary about their beta experience. Meanwhile, Onlinewelten had a really cool article about character creation and personal story.

Finally, IGN came away from the beta weekend of the opinion that “it’s clear ArenaNet is building an incredible game. Beautiful, imaginative landscapes stretch in all directions, free of the off-putting copy/paste feel of some virtual worlds.”  Check out IGNs review of the weekend event and PvP play.

We finished off the week at ArenaNet with a bang, opening Guild Wars 2 beta signups for 48 hours.  Our incredible tech team worked overtime as hundreds of thousands of our fans raced to apply for a shot at beta. In the end we hit our milestone: ONE MILLION beta signups in just over 48 hours! (Yep, we stretched the deadline just a bit!)

Thanks to each and every one of you for an exciting week, and here’s to many more to come!

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ArenaNet Developer Teams Celebrate on the 1 Million Beta Sign Ups!

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Get ready GW2 fans for a fantastic view of the ArenaNet Teams celebrating on the sign ups!

 

Link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150593729340945

 

From our staff here at Guild Wars 2 Stratics staff we congratulate every ArenaNet employee for making such a mile marker for a game that will be the next generation of games!  High ^5 to the all of ArenaNet and we hope you have  a great celebration this weekend! Great job all!

 

 

VG247 Exclusive: A jaunt through Tyria: hands on with the Guild Wars 2 beta

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 Stephany Nunneley over at VG247  gave  their impression’s of the Press Beta Weekend!  You may see some interesting points from more of a game players perspective which is quite refreshing.

 

This comment below stuck out to me because I myself want to know how myself how player friendly is the UI .

 

That being said, I could easily see myself playing Guild Wars 2. It’s gorgeous, it’s fluid, the UI doesn’t get in the way, it’s noob-friendly without holding your hand the entire time, it’s interesting, and it can be challenging.”

 

This sounds very reassuring to me since UI’s in some games can be incomplete or messy in my opinion. I wants something flow with ease when I am playing. My take from many articles and videos I have watched since the flood gates have opened that the UI will meet my expectations.

 

Please enjoy this article from  Stephany Nunneley and Guild Wars 2 thanks Stephany and VG247 for having this article up for all the players and fans to see and read. Very well done and great read VG247!

 

Link: http://www.vg247.com/2012/02/21/a-jaunt-through-tyria-hands-on-with-the-guild-wars-2-beta/

 

For the click link impaired:

 

Story by Stephany Nunneley

 

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 | 14:45 GMT

A jaunt through Tyria: hands on with the Guild Wars 2 beta

 

 

ArenaNet held a closed beta for Guild Wars 2 over the weekend, and resident MMO nut Stephany Nunneley won the ensuing brawl for VG247′s lone key.

 

To say that Guild Wars 2 has been “highly anticipated” over the last couple of years is a bit of an understatement; there’s been tremendous buzz in both the diehard MMO community and among those playing the original Guild Wars for the ArenaNet sequel.

This weekend, press were given a chance to try the MMO in a private beta which allowed choice of three races and both PvP and World vs World events. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to participate in the later, which in retrospect is probably as good thing as I am admittedly horrible at PvP.

However, I did manage to log quite a few hours playing the core game, and I came away extremely impressed. Having no previous GW experience, I was looking forward to finding out first-hand why so many MMO players harbor such reverence for Guild Wars and ArenaNet.

I am Norn, hear me roar

The first character I chose to play was Norn, a race I’d seen in last year’s GDC demo. I picked a female. Classes are professions in GW2. I could choose from: Elementalist, Engineer, Guardian, Mesmer, Necromancer, Ranger, Thief, or Warrior.

Whenever I play an MMO, or an RPG which gives me a choice in the matter (or even tabletop games), I usually pick a ranged or tactical class because I’m terrible at tanking. While I might not be the best at taking down enemies that get all up in my grill, I excel at crowd control and burning down mobs with massive amounts of DPS. So, with GW2 I chose a class I was comfortable playing to start with before stepping outside of my comfort zone: Ranger.

The next step was character customization. There were plenty of options to choose from regarding height, body type, hair-style, the shape of various facial features, armor color and tattoos. My Norn was a lovely, tall readhead with braids and some really sexy-looking black and red medium armor. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take screencaps of our character or the game; trust me, you’d notice her right off down the pub and start having racy thoughts about her as you downed your pints.

You then choose various character attributes for your adventurer’s biography, which provides the player with a main backstory that lasts throughout the game. I took Ferocity, Instinct, and a Wolf Totem.

Your totem, or spirit guide, is one of the various animals the Norn revere: the wolf, snow leopard, bear and raven make up the group. Since I decided early on my pet in GW2 would be the wolf, choosing this as my spirit guide just made sense to me.

The final step to finishing out my character was deciding my back-story. Of the various options provided, I chose to have “blacked out” after too much drinking during a “celebratory moot.” Because of my choice, one of the running threads during the game will be to find out what happened during my time of being “blacked out”. I thought this sounded fun and interesting.

Once a player finishes the customization process, it’s time to name the character. Once Guenhwyvar was finished, her story was told through a cutscene which featured the various choices I had made during customization.

My instincts guide the way to the glory

Much like the Hunter class in World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online, the Ranger can use a sword or an axe as its main hand weapon, as well as carry an axe, dagger, torch or warhorn as an off-hand weapon. Two-handed weapons are also an option, such as the long or shortbow, and this class did well using a greatsword as well. As you gain more proficiency with your weapon, extra weapon abilities will open and appear as an option on your attack bar.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-TJDTv1aGR4

 

In the introductory quest, I was tasked with going out into the wild and bringing back trophies of various animals: those who bring back the best trophies earn a place in the great hunt. With my trusty axe in hand and my loyal wolf Tess by my side, we went out in search of Minotaurs, Owl Griffon Sire, and the Dire Boar. While in search of these great beasts to murder for their heads, a World Event occurred. These events happen quite often in the game, and are essentially instances in which all players in the area can participate. Unlike an instance, however, you will not leave the current game screen – you simply walk into the area circled in orange on your map radar showing in the bottom right of your screen, and start doing what the event tells you needs to be done. You can also leave at anytime, simply by walking away, and it’s possible to miss out on it all together if you don’t get there fast enough.

In this case, the event was the Dire Boar, which was on the trophy list. Without other players and the NPCs which also participated, this boar would have been my first taste of death in GW2.

After obtaining all the trophies on my list, I returned to the village to show my worth and participate in the great hunt, which involved felling a giant iceworm called Issormir. When I arrived, I found smaller versions of this worm sticking up out of the snow, basically spawns of the main enemy. As in other games, I had to kill a number of these before it triggered a very brief cutscene in which Issormir burst through the ice to challenge me. This is where being a Ranger came in handy, as I could use my Ricochet skill, which basically tosses my axe in multiple form through the air, hitting both my main foe and the mobs around it, while my wolf tanked.

Once the battle was over, and I was victorious, the tutorial ended. I was whisked back to the village, and told to venture out into the world to help residents in need of my aid. Various quests and events occurred during this time. I helped bring a much needed elixir to a sick boy in the Norn capital city of Heolbrak; I assisted the great spirits of the bear, wolf, raven, and snow leopard with cleansing their shrines (I was even transformed into a leopard at one point which was very, very cool); and I killed many a beast, demon worshiper, and other enemies of the Norn. There were various World Events to participate in, and in the end I gained quite a bit of coin, and my bags were filled with loads of saleable merchandise and crafting supplies.

The attention to detail on the slightest item, NPC, building or surrounding landscape was impressive. The city is massive; I got a bit turned around a few times and became slightly lost.

What do you do for a living?

Upon entering the gargantuan city of Heolbrak for the first time, I was struck by just how much work has gone into GW2′s environments. The attention to detail on the slightest item, NPC, building or surrounding landscape was impressive. The city is massive; I got a bit turned around a few times and became slightly lost. However, this is where the game’s map radar becomes indispensable. When running about the world, you’ll notice a dotted white line on your radar, appearing behind your character arrow. Think of this as the breadcrumbs Hansel and Gretel dropped when lost in the forest. This is a handy mechanism; if you find yourself geographically challenged you can just look at your radar and retrace your steps.

Another way of getting around the city are waypoints, which upon discovery can be used to transport yourself to various zones in an area, saving your feet in the process. Waypoints are also out in the wider world map, so if you need to run to town in order to empty your bags or receive a reward for doing an NPC a favor, waypoints will come in handy – for a fee. Another option is Asura Gates, which take you to larger zones, and these are located in each race’s main city, as well as story-specific locations.

Also within Heolbrak are plenty of vendors; NPCs interacting with one another; banks; an auction hall; and profession and crafting vendors. As you move through the game world, mobs will drop various items which can be used to craft. Players will also note foodstuffs such as herbs and berries growing in the wild, as well as ore which can be mined. You don’t need to have nominated a particular crafting profession in order to gather these items, which I found refreshing, nor was it necessary to carry around a tool for harvesting, which in other games take up much-coveted bag space.

The crafting system in GW2 is divided into specific professions, or in this case disciplines, where a player can choose two out of eight different disciplines from a field of Armorsmith, Artificer (magical items and weapons), Cook, Huntsman (bows, pistols), Jeweler, Leatherworker (medium armor), Tailor or Weaponsmith.

I chose Jeweler and Huntsman, in order to make my own jewelry and bows – items which most, as MMO player can attest to, are some of the more expensive items in any game auction house. So it makes sense to be able to make certain items for yourself in order to save a bit of coin.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBAQiIesrGg&feature=player_embedded

 

Each craft will have several levels of advancement which will match the character’s progression throughout the game, which also is a bit handy so you’re not creating items you will have to haul around until you have reached the appropriate level to use. If you find you’re not enjoying a crafting profession you have chosen, you can always visit a master craftsman and change your discipline for a fee.

Look at the pretty kitty

After playing around with my Norn Hunter a bit, I decided to see what other races were on offer for the beta weekend: these were the Human and the Charr.

Considering I’m human already, and I find that a bit tedious most days of the week, I chose a Charr. Being the crazy catlady I already am, this made purrfect sense [Good grief - Ed].

The Charr’s formidable appearance is totally badass. I probably spent more time customizing this character than I did with my Norn. The sheer variety of coat pattern and color options available for this race really impressed me, but, in the end, I had to quit playing around with her: my time with the beta was going to end in a few hours, so I chose a white coat with black spots similar to that of a cheetah.

As with the Norn, and every other race in the game, I was able to choose the build, and look of the character and its backstory. My Charr, again named Guenhwyvar which is more fitting as a name for a glorious cat of this size, chose to be part of the Blood Legion, which is known for its prowess in combat. I was also given the option to choose a warband; my father’s character (he was a renowned warrior); and a character in my legion I am closest to – in this case I chose a ranged character as I would be playing a Guardian. In retrospect, I should have chosen an Engineer as they get to use guns and turrets, but, again, I decided to step out of the comfort zone I described to you earlier – and had fun with it in the end.

Once my Charr was complete, and her story told through the opening cutscene, I started off in the Plains of Ashford near the Iron Legion stronghold called Black Citadel. The home instance started in a barrack, and I was tasked with reporting to duty with the head legionnaire  – unfortunately, my help was needed in stopping a host of ghostly human warriors and their commander who came to life through a statue erected to him, and some of my warband perished in the battle.

Upon returning from battle, the death of my comrades was blamed on me, and I was sent on menial tasks in order to regain the confidence of the head of the legion.

If the Norn city of Heolbrak was easy for me to get lost in, you can only imagine how directional challenged I was upon entering the Black Citadel. All the attention to detail I noticed earlier was multiplied tenfold in this city, which was built by some of the finest engineers in all of Tyria. If you are a steampunk fan, then this is the race for you: the city is entirely built of metal, and there are interesting contraptions all over the place. It was a wondrous sight to behold, truly.

ArenaNet has created a colorful, bright, detailed MMO with a large amount of character customization that feels truly unique in a genre filled with cookie-cutter WoW clones.

All adventures must come to an end

Writing a preview of an MMO is no easy task because they can last for years, not just a few hours. However, from the 12-14 hours I was allotted, I came away extremely impressed. ArenaNet has created a colorful, bright, detailed MMO with a large amount of character customization that feels truly unique in a genre filled with cookie-cutter WoW clones.

I’ve played a lot of MMOs over the years, and I get really, really bored with most after I hit the 20-30 hours mark. I will be the first to admit it isn’t fair of me to judge an MMO based in such a short amount of playtime for a game that is intended to last for so long, but you wouldn’t continue reading a book if it failed to draw you in, and you would stop watching a television series if you kept falling asleep while watching. It’s the same for me with MMOs. If I’m not interested after dumping large chunks of my time into one, or I find it tedious and utterly repetitive, I’ll drop it like a bad boyfriend and never look back. This is one of the reasons I continue to play Lord of the Rings Online after four years. Yes, it can be repetitive, and yes, I get bored every once in a while when new content has been slow coming, but the story and the sheer beauty of the game – and the maturity of its community – always pull me back after a short break.

That being said, I could easily see myself playing Guild Wars 2. It’s gorgeous, it’s fluid, the UI doesn’t get in the way, it’s noob-friendly without holding your hand the entire time, it’s interesting, and it can be challenging. The character customization is impressive, and being able to have your own story instead of something canned is refreshing. While I will always feel the pull to venture forth into Middle-earth in order to taste sweet revenge upon the orcs and taint my blade with their blood most foul, I would also consider it a privilege to aid Tyria in its time of need, whenever she calls for it.

An open beta for Guild Wars 2 will go live in the spring, and the game will be released later this year.

Gamespot Press Beta Youtube Videos!

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Gamespot has some videos out of their press beta weekend of Guild Wars 2.  You will get to see some great game play and get an idea of some areas of the games.

 

I found these very interesting to watch which gave more idea how combat and mechanics of the game work. I also liked how players jumped in to help each other. Even though its beta, I could still see the social aspect of how Guild Wars 2 will work when it comes to the game itself.

 

Guild Wars 2 is basically is showing a lot of promise from what we have heard so far and have seen through all this beta press. I believe the ArenaNet developers have put a lot more work and dedication into Guild Wars 2 and it’s now showing.

 

Our staff  here at Guild Wars 2 Stratics offers our thanks and congratulate Gamespot for having these videos up for all the fans and players of GW2 to see and for a great press beta weekend. Spot on!!!!

 

Ice Drake Broodmother Fight – Guild Wars 2 Beta

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JX1Op79EkbQ

 

Shaemoor Garrison Skirmish – Guild Wars 2 Beta

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfGtg3dkmrg&feature=player_embedded

 

Disrupt Grawl Worship – Guild Wars 2 Beta

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Seag67DN1gs&feature=player_embedded

 

Killing the Flame Legion – Guild Wars 2 Beta

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zq6vm9dl5e0&feature=player_embedded

 

Mini Podcast – Guild Wars 2 Beta

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSoYWndt1Vs