Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guild Wars 2 Launch Date Official

It's official. The Guild Wars 2 launch date is AUGUST 28th, 2012!

I logged on to my computer this morning and loaded up my iGoogle home page. Being only half awake, I blearily glanced over the titles on my Reader and then clicked off to ... WAIT!!! What was that??? I frantically spammed the back button. Launch date?? OMGOMGOMG.
Yeah, it was true. This is not a dream. I am awake and I have the pinch marks to prove it.

Just yesterday in the Beta Stress Test, my friend and I were commenting that we didnt' think the game would release until fourth quarter, so after Oct 31. Am I soooo happy we were wrong!

We get one more Beta Weekend, July 20-22, then I'm assuming the 3-day headstart for pre-purchasers starts August 25. Wow, my smile is hurting my face!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GW2 Stress-Free Test

Girl Power!
Dezi (as Shaldora), Drakin (as Myst) & Spiral
showing off our summoned shields courtesy of Pol. 
I know they call it Stress Testing cuz of the behind-the-scenes work that the devs are doing, but to me it should be called the Stress-Free Test! Or perhaps the Stress-Relieving Test? All I know is that I had a blast and the only negative feelings I had were when the servers shut down. There's always that awful moment of silence when that happens, when everyone in RaidCall sits quietly and forlornly staring at their monitors. Then someone inevitably says in a resigned voice, "Now what?"

Anyhoo, I have 40 screenshots to pore through so that should give me a few blog posts to write. I will start with a couple fun shots from today.

I am happy -- nay, ecstatic! -- that Dezi has convinced Modra & Cuge to join the game, and Dogmatichades has convinced Drakin to join as well. The three of them are old friends from other games we've played together and it was wonderful to have them chatting it up in RC again.
Modra & Cuge are from New Zealand and showed their excitement for GW2 by getting up veerrrrrrrry early to play in this Stress Test. Thanks for coming, guys!
And Drakin is a WoW addict who is now insisting that he is going to get "everyone" to buy this game and join up. Awesome!

Drakin (as Myst) was super thrilled with the combo effects in the game.
Here he is showing us how he can get a fire shield by casting an ability while running through my line of fire on the ground.
He said, "I am going to need an Elementalist around me at all times!"
It was interesting to hear the comments from Modra, Cuge & Drakin about the game as they are fresh and new to it. Cuge was impressed with the customer service, as she had written to ANet about an issue before she even bought the game and they replied to her personally. She also really liked the green arrows showing the way to your primary storyline quests, and the heart quests that "fill in" the heart when you're done.
Modra thought that the game wasn't "as pretty" as Tera, but it was still very good. He runs his game on full graphics...cuz he can! (Jealous!) He also mentioned that it's not so much the graphics or the gameplay, it's the community that he misses. Awwww, shucks. :)
Drakin was playing on a Mac and had to do something funky and technical to make the game work. He said that it was very "choppy" but hopefully that's something that will be fixed. He did insist that he lwas "loving it" and was super happy the whole time.

I'll post more thoughts and screens from the day tomorrow before I head off to the North for a weekend away at my family's log cabin. Later!

Quote of the day:
"Who killed Bambi? Oh right, I did." -- Modra

Friday, June 15, 2012

Graphics in GW2 - The Good & The Bad

On the last BWE, I realized that I had been playing with the incorrect resolution settings. Not sure how long that had been going on, but I switched over to 1680 x 1050 and things looked incredibly sharp. I think I actually said in RaidCall, "How did this game manage to get prettier?"

I've mucked about with my graphics settings to get the best performance with the least lag. I can get away with high textures and shaders (I like seeing my pretty costumes), but I select low shadows, low terrain and no reflections. I also turn off anti-aliasing and vertical synch. Not completely sure how those work, but they seem to improve my FPS.
Still I am blown away by the beautiful artwork of this game. Take a look at these two screenshots from the last GW2 beta weekend.
The Jewelcrafters Station in Hoelbrak (I think). So pretty!

Just wandering around Divinity's Reach and I came across this lovely fountain. The streams of water glistened in the light, in contrast to the rough stones surrounding the pool and the coarse grain of the wooden stairs. A simple tableau, but gorgeous.
On the other hand, I have had some pretty bad graphics experiences. The first video I took of GW2 was of Spiral diving off the high dive platform at LA. It was so laggy that my toon disappeared half way down the dive and then reappeared as a wet splat on the surface of the ocean. There's a video link in the right hand column, or you can go to my YouTube channel, SpiralCee, to check it out. 
I've also had some amusing clipping problems, including X-ray vision of Spiral's head. Nice to see that she's cavity-free. Great work on the brushing & flossing!
Open up and say Ahhhh

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Better with Bovines

I'm a sexy beast!
I'm getting the feeling that someone on the GW2 team has an obsession with cattle. No judging, of course. To each his/her own. What happens on the farm, stays on the farm. ;)

I already posted about the sexy bovine buttocks near Divinity's Reach. Well, during the BWE2 I came across a ranch outside of Black Citadel that had an interesting quest. You had to (got to?) dress up in a cow costume and help teach the cows to do their cow-y things, like gouging with horns, taunting with moos, and charging at enemies. It was actually total silly fun!

Then afterwards there was a cow race, with spectators cheering on their favorites. "Go Miss Moo! Don't let me down!" I didn't stick around to see if you could place bets on your fave farm animal, but I think that would be a neat feature.

Notice the text says, "her long cow eyelashes"?
Hmmm, sounds a bit flirty. 
On the other side of the ranch, the heart quest was to help out the ranchers, including cheering up lonely heifers. I sat down next to this one, and she became happy. The next one was distinguished or disdainful or something, so I bowed to her and she liked that.
There were a few stinky cows, but I couldn't figure out what needed to be done to help them as there was no Mane 'n Tail in sight. And one cow was depressed and it said she needed "something", but I couldn't tell what. I was tempted to pick up a cattle prod and "encourage" a nearby bull to come on over, but then I got distracted by other events. :D

This set of quests is a great example one of the unique features of GW2. When you go to a heart quest, you don't have to just do one thing. You can kill bandits, catch bugs, defuse bombs, light torches, catch rabbits, water crops...all sorts of things! It's really fantastic to be able to choose what you want your quest to be about. Haven't you all been in another MMO where you are forced to complete a quest the way "they" want you to? I mean, you HAVE to kill 10 dudes, you HAVE to collect 12 Boringweeds. This way, each player has a choice to do the kind of quests they like. Maybe you're not feeling so bloodthirsty today? That's fine. Go ahead and plug leaks in the dam. It's all about helping the quest giver. Pretty freaking cool.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Size Matters

Dezi as Hadasha, showing me her awesome Norn tatts
 I put in some feedback during the BWE about relative sizes of characters. When you're doing your character creation, you can choose the height of your character and it shows a shadowed outline of the shortest and tallest you can be for that race. However, it doesn't show your size relative to other races.

Perhaps this is intentional, but what ends up happening is you create what you think is an average sized Norn female, and end up towering over your not-so-tall human friends. You can see in the picture to the right, Dezi as the shortest possible Norn female still dwarfs me as an average human female. Yet she is perfectly proportioned and when she stands next to other Norns, she looks "normal".

But in hindsight, if you think about it, it's actually quite logical. You are constrained by the genetics of your race. Dezi said it best when we traveled back to Hoelbrak, the Norn capital, and she exclaimed in relief: "I feel normal again! I'm not an Amazon woman anymore." And there I was feeling like a teeny-person, like I'd been shrunk. I kept thinking I was finding a short Norn, only to run up to them and realize I barely reached their belt buckle! (Yes, dirty minds can snicker here.)
I think this is one of the shorter Norn males.
Poor guy! He must get teased all the time!

Of course the best place to admire the size differences is in Lion's Arch. All the races are there, mingling without prejudice: squat Asurans debating with slender Sylvari, bulky Norns menacing timid Skritt. It's the most impressive menagerie of races since the Star Wars Cantina!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sad Face :(

At 3 am EST last night, my world went silent. Awwwwww.
But I went out with a final flurry of activity! It was a lot of fun and I have many, many screens to share. You ready?  :)

OMG I found these little guys underwater. They are so squeeeeee! Their name, Quaggans, doesn't portray how adorable they are. 

We had some giggles using up all our potions. I'm the lizard, Dezi is the pink flamingo (moa) and Dogmatichades is the Jackalope!
The event finale was supposed to start at 2:20 am EST but was a bit late. Someone tossed down a few Boxes o' Fun and a crowd gathered to play around and stare at each other. That's Dog, the most gigantic Norn you'll ever see!
Dog & I having a breath fight! I think he won. My little Fire Puke couldn't keep up with his Frosty Norn Barf of Doom.

So the finale event starts and the crowd rushes to kill a boss. The fight looked something like this. Yeah, heavy lag. Dezi stood in a corner, poor thing, cuz her computer can't handle this stuff.
Dezi and I were corrupted by the Krack Whore, or something. We got turned to the Dark Side and had to fight against our friends. We had no complaints! RAWR!!
This is Spiral as a Krack Whore next to some purple pretty I was supposed to defend. 
There was also an amazing dragon flying in and out of the dark clouds in the sky, which was totally wicked cool. I didn't get a screen of it but there is one here on Guild Wars Insider. Apparently Rytlock showed up as well, but I was too busy having fun ganking my friends to care about that. 
I thought it was a neat idea to have a Grand Finale to the weekend even though the lag was atrocious. It was certainly memorable! 

At 3 AM, one by one we were kicked from our world and left in a bit of shocked silence on RaidCall. But only for a moment! Then we started brainstorming for guild names for the release.
Which do you like better: Contemplators of the Bush or Refugee Farmers? :D

Sunday, June 10, 2012

GW2 + Free Wine * Friends = FUN

So things may have gotten a little out of hand last night in GW2. Here are some screens and some comments. Enjoy!

Spent my gems on dyes! I have 116 now, out of 254 total available (I think). Click on the Photobucket Vanity Pix link on the right to see this costume in many colours.
BTW, I crafted those pants! Pretty darn fancy, eh?

Dezi (Hadasha Stonecarver) was so excited when she clicked the Box o' Fun and became an Ooze!!!

More Box o' Fun shenanagins. That's Dezi (Hadasha), Norn Thief, grown to a giant, and me down at the bottom shrunk to tinyness! Plus there's an NPC for scale. Too fun!

Dezi & I were goofing off a lot last night. Now she's a pig!

Perhaps I should have been paying attention to the super-intense fight going on around me, but I was trying to get a screen of Dezi as Hedwig!
That's Dogmatichades (Static Fyre) on the left, and Pol (Lilyth Ironwatcher) on the bottom right. You can see Pol's wicked conjured blue sword flying in the air.

So maybe I had a little bit too much wine last night. I took a lot of screens of cow butts, but it was because I was fascinated by their roundness! Seriously, normal cows don't have butts like Beyonce, do they?? What kinky artist drew these cows?? So funny! Reminded me of the bootylicious rhinos in RoM.

At this point, things are really getting out of hand. This is Dogmatichades (as Static Fyre) contemplating a bush. Yep, we do have dirty minds.

This is Refugee Farmer. We had a lot of fun with him. Look at his stance! Look at his balding head! OMG, we laughed so hard at this guy.
Pol says, "How do you farm refugees?" Someone else said he looks like he has a cat in his pants!
Yeah, quite a bit of laughing at the expense of this NPC!!  :D
And the final quote of the day, courtesy of yours truly: "Make lava, not war."
Spoken as a true Pyromancer!

I have so many more screens to put up but I want to get back in game. I promise I will post more about our adventures, opinions, and discoveries later!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Cheeks Hurt From Smiling

Had the MOST fun in GW2 last night! Two of my best online friends, Dezi & Pol, bought the game and came into beta with me. Then later, another gaming friend, Dogmatichades, logged on to our RaidCall channel and chatted with us while he waited for his download. I laughed so much! It is great to be back with my friends and playing a game that is fun, challenging and beautiful.

I want to get back into game so here are just a few screenshots of things that we did last night.

Made it to Lion's Arch! Beautiful place. The bottom of this fountain has moving pieces, and spouts of water shoot up from the fishies.

Pol (Iron Hellspawn) found a freaking WHALE and tried to ride it.

Spiral and a Sylvan Hound in LA. I spent quite a bit of time just exploring and staring at things and saying stuff like: "This game is freaking awesome." 

Dezi's first toon, a Charr hunter named Crissy Padfoot. She actually decided later to try out the thief class and fell in love with it! I think this poor kitty won't be seen again. 
Equipped dual-wielding daggers and got a new skill, FIRE BARF!! Well, I think technically it's called Drake's Breath, but I had a fantastic time running about projectile-puking flames on everything in sight.  :D

Leave it to Pol to have the most memorable statement of the night: "Oh God! I almost stepped on an Asuran child!!" (With a very sincere tone of alarm in his voice.)
Almost forgot: Dezi & Pol couldn't get into Scavenger's Causeway server so I used my free transfer to go to Port Sledge with them. But apparently world choice is not locked in for the release, so who knows where we'll end up!

Guys, I am so glad that you're in game with me! I missed you all so much and it's great to be back online in RC chatting it up and exploring this fantastic new game. Things are always better with friends. :D
I'm heading back in. See you in Tyria!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beta Input is Actually Being Used

Wow. Can A-Net get any more awesome? (Maybe that's what the A should be for, instead of Arena?)

Check out their latest blog post about the game changes they've made for the upcoming Beta Weekend, and really for the game overall. I guess I was cynical about the whole "testing" idea of beta. My previous experience in beta testing has been that the game is pretty much set when you go into beta, and the devs are just looking for programming bugs, not aesthetics or playability tweaks.
But A-Net is changing a whole bunch of stuff because of feedback, aka complaints, from the beta players. I mean they revamped the skill tiers, the UI, the map, the local chat, the gem store, keybindings, and overflow servers.
They've also doubled the number of servers they have, which is probably both exciting and overwhelming for them! Can you imagine the devs feeling so prepared for an onslaught of players on launch day...and then realizing they need DOUBLE the amount of servers? I mean, they must have been open-jawed with amazement. It's good to be cautiously optimistic about your game, but the sheer number of players logging in must have blown their a good way! I am visualizing a bunch of nerds high-fiving each other in some darkened room with monitors all over, like the war rooms you see in the movies. I'm sure it's not like that! :D
They've also added more World versus World, (WvW), which I haven't even tried yet, and a new Mystical Forge thinga-ma-jobbie in Lion's Arch that I have to go play with! It sounds like you dump in your grey items or spare gear and get back a Kinder Egg Surprise! (I jest.)
And they're giving us more free gems to go shopping too and I'm gonna buy that Box o' Fun they mentioned. Gosh, I'm just a big kid, aren't I? So non-focused and silly. They are other players racing to max their toons and get gear and see the whole world, and here I am buying goofy vanity items. :D

I will be blogging this weekend during Beta and taking as many screenshots as I can. Stayed tuned for updates!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Need a Gift for a Gamer?

You may have noticed that I have an ad link on the right-hand side of my page leading to Think Geek. I love this store! It's got so many things that I wish I had invented. This page is a great place to start if you're looking for awesome gifts for the gamer or geek in your life.

And now for the future GW2 devotee there are SteelSeries Official GW2 products, including a mouse, mousepad, and gaming headset. I'm not sure that I'm THAT serious about just one game, but they do look pretty cool.

And hey, did you see the A-net employee who got the GW2 dragon logo tattooed on his ribcage? That's devotion! Or insanity? Hmmm...

(The Think Geek link is an affiliate link, so if you go there through my webpage and buy stuff, I get a cut. The SteelSeries link is not. Just lettin' ya know.)