Friday, August 24, 2012

This is where MY legend begins!

Howdy strangers, long time no see...

Well unless you have been under a rock, you must realize that tonight is going to be a very very special night! Tonight is when after 5 years of working on it, ArenaNet will unveil for those of us who have prepurchased- GUILD WARS 2! I have to level with you folks, a year and a month ago, when I had actually decided to look into this phenomenon known as GW2, I was very much on the fence, and very much disillusioned with the state of MMORPGs in general. I am sure if you have read any of the past blogs you can see that I have been looking for a virtual place to call home after all. SWTOR was a great ride, and while I may pick it up again when it goes free to play, I do have to confess that part of the reason why you had not seen any more on the subject is because the story was over too soon for me. I lost interest, similarly to what happened with Rift.

Of course this begs the question, well Drew, who's to say the same thing will not happen with Guild Wars 2 when something newer and shinier comes along?

While this is a valid concern, in the short (REALLY SHORT) three weekend and a couple stress test betas that I have been in, my appetite has been FAR from sated! I think that ArenaNet hit on a perfect ration of Tyrian goodness to keep us all hooked. Come on now, you know that you salivated every time they announced another stress test! Now that the night is at hand, I am about 99% sure if you check most of the social media, everyone is talking about this game. But WHY? Why has this game been so hyped of late? What is it about it that has seemingly converted the masses, both within the media and without?

Here's what I think it is:

1- ArenaNet themselves. In the short time that I was able to log in on those weekends, I noticed players running around with ANet logos above their heads, alongside other regular players. They PLAY THEIR OWN GAME! I have always heard devs (in other games) brag about doing it, and giving it lip service, but actually SEEING several of them running about, helping with events chains, harvesting, even leading dungeon runs at odd hours no less (way past their work time) fills me with a great confidence that not only does ArenaNet take pride in their work, but ENJOY being in the world they have created! They do not look at it as here is a game we made for YOU, but here is a game we made for all of US! That alone has my customer loyalty.

2- They listen. I am no stranger to beta testing, and I know the golden rule is to leave detailed feedback... and yes I do get tl;dr (too long; didn't read). However, I was amazed to see some of the things I and others had requested implemented by the next weekend test! Every bug I submitted was fixed, and profession changes I had been saying needed to happen happened! I know they know a lot more about programming and gaming than I do, but the fact that they also know when to admit something is not working the way it should, or is not as FUN as it should be, and they change it... I like that.

3- The beauty of it all. There have been many MMORPGs that I have played where I have explored to my heart's content, and been left feeling somewhat blah by what I have found. As time has gone on, and technology has improved, games have started to look more and more beautiful. ArenaNet has taken it above and beyond in this instance. Not content with just having a good looking world, they actually have encouraged you to see some of the best vistas they worked so hard on. I, in turn, would encourage all of you who will play this game, to find every single vista and take a moment to soak in the cinematic goodness. Don't forget you get rewarded for finding them all. I have never in my life played a game that rewards you for exploring... until now.

4- The community feel. In three short weekends, I met so many people... some random passers by that decided to pitch in and help me, some who took the time to talk to me and eventually end up on my friends list. Though all characters are wiped now, in preparation for launch, one thing ArenaNet insisted upon, was to leave your contact list intact! This means anyone you met on whatever server you were on over the three beta tests is STILL on your friends list! With cross server communication, and eventually the guesting feature (where you can actually be a guest on your friend's American or European server), this will make it ridiculously easy to play with the people you want to play with. Meanwhile on your home server you can be sure that the people you meet there will be dedicated and proud to be part of their home... especially when it comes time to defend our honor in WvWvW PvP (world vs world vs world).

5- The common sense approaches. Why is it in 2012, that no other game has thought of common sense things like mob sharing (no kill stealing... ever), resource node instancing (again no resource ninja-ing), dungeon loot for all (everyone get a full complement of loot, no more need/greed rolls), player re-leveling in lower zones (if you are a level 80 you can go to a level 1-15 zone and NOT one shot everything. It keeps being challenging, so that you can guide your friend who is a level 5 along), shared game economy (when you buy off the trading post, you are seeing listings from every server in existence... whether europe or america), and outdoor raiding (you do not even need to group up to kill a world boss, just jump in)... and on the outdoor raiding, this is as early as the first ZONE! This is not to mention the obvious things such as truly dynamic events that scale in difficulty the more players participate, and consequences for winning or failing any given event. Why has it taken so long for any game to do this? All I can say is I am glad ArenaNet has become the trendsetter in this.

There are so many more things I could list, but this list would go on forever. Mark my words folks, you are hearing it here first. This game has become the new paradigm that all other MMORPGs to follow will try to emulate. I would not be surprised at all if WoW starts adding some of these features just to keep up.

It's almost time to begin our legends, and you will find me on TARNISHED COAST server, with my guild- Sanctuary of Hope [SANC] (long time SWG players may remember us from Naritus server). Just look for the huge purple clothed, black norn... and be sure to say hi.

Going forward my blog will do what I was doing with SWTOR... chronicling my adventures as Bel Geode. I thank you all for reading, and see you on Tyria!