FEAR MY 100 WATTS OF ILLUMINATION!

For I… am a LORE-MASTER!  And this is my… floating… lightbulb pet.

That can’t attack.

And commits suicide.

Uh.

Seriously?

Where’s my Auroch pet, Turbine?  WHERE’S THE BEEF?

While I like the idea of a pet that helps heal and improve LMs’ healing capabilities, this thing is just sad all around.  Like, I’m not even going to make eye contact with it if it calls out my name in game and we’re the only two beings in the zone.  I DO NOT KNOW YOU, FLOATING LIGHTBULB!

The more I play Guild Wars, the more I wish it was Guild Wars 2

I know I’ve read some grousing about how a segment of the Guild Wars community is rankled that ArenaNet stopped actively developing for the game (outside of much smaller updates) in favor of throwing resources at Guild Wars 2.  And to this I have to say, “What are you ON?”

(Fun fact: ArenaNet was actually well into development of a fourth campaign/expansion called Utopia, which was slated for a spring 2007 release.  You can read more on it over at Guild Wars Wiki.)

In many respects, Guild Wars is a terrific game.  The visuals are still extremely attractive, the skill building design gives characters endless possibilities, the one-time cost and ease of grouping lowered barriers of entry, and there’s just a huge amount of content in there to be explored.  Still, it’s not perfect — far from it, actually.  For all that there is to be enjoyed, there are plenty of annoyances as well, and I’m not just talking about lack of a jump button here.  I’m liking the missions less and less as I go on, probably because I absolutely suck at them and get stressed out trying to finish the masters/bonus and failing repeatedly.  I just feel hemmed in by the game’s design a lot, and have become increasingly eager to simply move on to Guild Wars 2.

It’s good to go through the story now, for sure, because it’s given me more of an understanding about the backstory and world of the game.  And my primary goal — earning Hall of Monument points — will hopefully pay off when GW2 launches.  But honestly?  It’s a whole lot of work for what will probably be relatively small rewards down the line, and I’m not sure that it was worth doing for just that alone.

I don’t want to be too down on my time in Guild Wars, because I did get involved with one of the most helpful guilds I’ve ever experienced.  Every time I got stuck on a mission, members just dropped what they were doing to come help out, turning a stressful session into a lot of fun (running a mission with guildies feels like “easy mode” to me).  And I’m pleased to realize that I’m growing closer to the final steps in this project as GW2’s release — I’m betting spring of next year — draws near.

I am going to stop at 15 HoM points, however.  15 points gets me some beginner gear, a few weapons, two non-combat pets, a Ranger pet, and some titles.  That’s enough.  I figure the tally will end up like this:

  • (5+3) Honor: 3 for linking accounts, 2 for campaigns (3 more points if I figure out how to get the last two titles, maybe lightbringer/sunspear)
  • (5) Devotion: 1 for rare mini (have), 1 for unique mini (have), 3 for 20 minis (have)
  • (5) Fellowship: 1 for rare pet (heading for that right now), 1 for regular pet, 3 for upgraded companions
  • (0) Resilience/Valour: Honestly, I have no idea right now how easy/hard these armors and weapons are to come by, so if I can’t buy them outright I may skip ’em

Guild Wars experts, I’d love to hear your suggestions if I’m overlooking the obvious!

I am growing concerned that I’m running out of time, looking at what’s coming down the pike in MMO land, such as LOTRO’s expansion, SWTOR, and whatnot.  So if I’m going to finish this I need to be faithful about doing it instead of my sporadic one to two logins a week.

Wasting Time in the Wastelands

I have to admit that it’s becoming *incredibly* hard to play anything other than Fallen Earth during this past week.  Part of that is just the new-ish feeling of coming back to it all, part is needing to get some alone time from MMOs I’ve been playing nonstop for months now, and part is the wonderful flavor that is Fallen Earth.

It’s small things, like being able to go in a majority of the structures — something most MMOs, strangely enough, deny to the player.  Or the funny voice quotes, or the fact that the game really isn’t about combat as it is a journey.  Combat right now is usually two or three quick shots of my rifle before an enemy drops (and way before they hit me).  But conserving ammo, going for headshots, and sneaking my way through enemy camps becomes more fun for it because each encounter isn’t going to suck up a minute or two of combat time.

The big question hanging over the heads — and being constantly discussed on the chat channels — is the F2P conversion.  This is scheduled for somewhere between October and December, and GamersFirst has yet to lay out solid plans for it all.  The closest I’ve seen comes from Creep the Prophet, who relays this membership chart.  The chart doesn’t have any prices attached, although we’ll assume that the far left is completely F2P with the three to the right being various subscription levels.

Looking this over, I think I’m perfectly okay going with the F2P plan with occasional store purchases.  It’s pretty generous, to be honest, with the most major restrictions being in crafting (fewer hours and slower progress), money cap, no global chat, and only one character slot.  For me, that’s perfect — and what I do get (like the entire game) is more than enough for me to put up with the restrictions.

So what have I been up to?  Yeti Yesterday is now level 9 and in her third starter town (Clinton FARM and Midway are down, and I’m in the midst of Boneclaw, which I never saw during my last stint in the game).  My plan is to finish up the starter towns and then head to Embry Crossroads, going on from there.  There’s really no rush, and in fact the slower I take it the better off I am, since I’ll get more AP and be able to work on all of my crafting/salvaging a lot more.

Most of my current gear is crafted, although I’ve gotten the odd quest reward (such as shoulders) that is better than anything I could make.  I was really pleased to discover one quest chain awarding a pet cockroach, who will now join my pet hermit crab in my stable.

My only regret is not finding a good clan yet, as I’m hampered by being out of the zone most of the established playerbase is in, not having global chat (being in the trial), and not wanting to spend time combing through the forums.  It’ll happen, though.

Pointless Poll of the Day: What Guild Wars 2 race will you play?

WildStar: Can great MMOs come out of nowhere?

Out of all of the news that’s been bubbling out of Gamescom and PAX, probably the most interesting is just how much attention and love WildStar is getting.  I don’t think anyone expected it, which is somewhat unusual in this industry — we usually see games coming from a long ways off, announced early on in the development cycle, to allow for the maximum amount of hype and anticipation to snowball.

Yet more and more devs are saying things like “We need to hold off showing you anything until we’re much later in the development cycle and have it nearly finished.”  It might not help with the hype train, but it does wonders with consumer confidence in a genre that’s so brutally quick to judge, slam, and storm off before the game’s out and it’s been given a chance to prove itself.

I remember a while back I asked the question — either here or on Massively — whether it was possible for great MMOs to come out of the blue and bowl us over.  Lots of people said no, because we’re a 24/7 news cycle kind of world and big (or decently-made) MMOs don’t appear every day.  But I harbored a suspicion that, given the right circumstances, shrewd studio planning, and personal awareness, that, yes, it could indeed happen.

I felt it happen with Fallen Earth prior to launch, mostly because I didn’t give it the time of day nor listen to anyone talk about it — and then I got my hands on it and fell in love.  I saw it happen with RIFT, which went from low-profile to mega-profile within the space of a month as it ramped up beta testing weekends and people went, “Whoa!  We weren’t even following this game but holy crud is it polished and fun!”  And I think it’s happening here with WildStar.

It’s to NCsoft’s credit that the company waited until Carbine had something solid to show instead of just a trailer and a fairy wish list of ideas.  Announcing your game for the first time while you let people see it in action or get to play it themselves makes a big, big impression, as if to say that this company really has it together.  It’s like a dash of cold water to the face that makes you sit up and really pay attention.

And it’s to WildStar’s credit that the title genuinely looks fun.  I’m hearing a lot of love for the art style, the scifi-ish setting, the action-packed environment, and especially the way the game will cater to your personal playstyle along the Bartle scale.  For people who say that we’re in an MMO rut, I want to point at games like WildStar to say that devs do hear, do understand, and are trying to innovate without taking too far of a risk that they could lose the whole project.  I think that in this post-WoW era we’re going to be seeing more interesting MMO ideas and features than we have in the past couple years, and that the genre is going to be primed for a different kind of revolution.  But that’s just my opinion.