Monday, July 23, 2012

GW2 Final Beta Weekend Rata Sum in PIctures (pt 2)

This time around I'm going to give you a look at Rata Sum, quite possibly the most well designed capital city in the history of MMOs. It's just spectacular! Look!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

GW2 Final Beta Weekend Picture Book Mode (pt 1)

Arena Net really outdid themselves IMO. I had high expectations for the Sylvari considering the art team behind all the design on Guild Wars 2, and they seriously delivered. I think the only way to properly describe the Sylvari is to use pictures. I can't find the right words. Every time I go to a new area I'm simply in disbelief of what the people behind GW2 managed to pull off.

I'm already planning my next video. I could spend an entire Month gathering footage of just the Sylvari areas! There's just so much amazing vistas. It's totally insane.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Steam Sale, Crysis 2, and GW2 Final BWE prep

As pretty much everyone knows, Steam is having their annual summer sale right now, which has given me the opportunity to pick up some titles I hadn't previously had the chance to and also give me some entertainment to fill in the time gap between Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekends.

Most importantly, I finally got Crysis 2 (and at 70% off, that's a pretty big steal), and combined with the fact that I also now finally have a computer capable of running it in all the DX11 glory it requires I couldn't be happier. It's extremely satisfying. And totally mind blowing. 

Sure we've all seen Crytek's promotional stuff, and DX11 showcases, for CryEngine 3 but watching videos and playing the game are two totally different animals. Mostly it comes down to the fact that when I'm immersed in the game I can actually notice why all of these little details like bokeh, realtime reflections, and tessellation make a difference. Their tech is totally mind blowing, but Crytek could surely use some better writers. 

To say it plainly, the plot feels like it was written by monkeys. But really, I don't play this game for it's complex and involved story (there isn't any), I play it to experience the power of the game engine they designed. I mean... just look at it.

I'm not even running the game at max settings. It's simply Gorgeous.

Finally, we're all waiting with eager anticipation as the final Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend starts in 2 days. Getting to play the Sylvari and Asura will be totally amazing. I can't wait!

Friday, July 13, 2012

GW2 Beta Client Update

For those of you who just can't wait to get ready for next week's BWE you should be pleased to know that there's now a new Beta Client update. What are you waiting for? You should be downloading this already!

Also, the new client downloader is starting to look really nice!

Monday, July 9, 2012

GW2 Final BWE

It comes as welcome news today that for the final Beta Weekend Event the Asura and Sylvari will be playable races. Of course, this isn't a huge surprise given that Guild Wars 2 is set to be released a little over a month later so having these races polished up would be a generally good idea.

The Sylvari were what captivated me about GW2 from the very start. I'd already been sold on Guild Wars from the beginning, so I was planning on buying GW2 from the first mention of its development. I bought all the magazines to get the special mini pets and read up on any new sliver of information I could get my hands on. So every time they mentioned this elusive Sylvair I couldn't stop but wonder how this race would pan out, and I have to say I couldn't be more pleased with the way ArenaNet developed them.

I've played my fair share of fantasy games so having this totally unique race pop up is huge. They're totally awesome and there's nothing quite like them in any other universe out there. If you haven't had a chance too yet I'd highly recommend you go through the older ArenaNet blogs about the Sylvari. There's a lot of good information there. And if you're not planning on playing a Sylvari then read up all the more, afterall you should probably get to know your new neighbors. They sound pretty nice.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

GW2 Stress Test and Announcement

First and foremost you should all know by now that Guild Wars 2 will be released on August 28th! The best part of that news is that everyone who pre-purchased the game gets a 3-day head start, which means you can start playing it on the 25th and get a weekend in before everyone else does. Awesome! The wait is almost finally over!

I've also been super glad that during the 2 months we have left of waiting we're getting all these stress tests, and beta weekends, which are super fun and they've let me really figure out what to do under different playing circumstances. During the stress test yesterday I only had a few hours to play, and I had already completed a lot of the content I intended to so what was I to do for a couple hours?

First of all, I turned myself into a deer. I mean why not?

Then I played around on my warrior and killed some bandits with the help of Logan Thackeray. The thing I really enjoy about playing a warrior is that combat feels especially visceral. While I do definitely enjoy the combat system with Mesmers, there's always a soft spot in my heart for getting up close and personal with my foes. Smashing them in the face with large objects never gets old.

After that we all found out that there would be a repeat of the last BWE final event, in which Dragon Branded minions invaded the Plains of Ashford. During the last BWE I didn't get a chance to play in this little event so it was especially fun for me to experience for the first time. I definitely did my fair share of zerging waypoints and making sure that nothing survived our onslaught. 

Of course, eventually I got turned and had a party with my new friends. 

Now we only have some speculation left to do. The last BWE is July 20-22, so what do you think they'll let us play? I'm hoping the Sylvari and Asura are finally available. It would be awesome to finally see Rata Sum and The Grove in all their glory!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

D3 Cave In

It comes as no real surprise that eventually I caved in and got Diablo 3.

I've been charging through the game with a monk and am currently half way through Act 3 in Hell without much difficulty. The nice thing about monks, as I've found, is that it's really easy to spec them for damage or taking so depending on what I'm going up against I can always be sure to have the right gear for the job. I've been going for a more damage oriented build recently focusing on dual wield skills and some AoE skills. This seems like it works out especially well with all the crazy packs of mobs in Act3. They tend to clump up really nicely which makes for some really easy group slaughter.

I'm sure that will all change once I get to Inferno and start to totally get worked by normal white mobs, but at least I'm starting to build up a good base of gear to get started on Inferno. Afterall Inferno is where the real game begins. Right?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

GW2 Filling the Void

It's been some time since the last Beta Weekend Event and since then I've had a lot of time with other games. Bastion, Super Meat Boy, LIMBO, Starcraft2, and Borderlands (again). But that all made me realize that really all I've been doing is trying to find something to fill the GW2 void between now and the next BWE.

I almost bought Diablo 3 the other day too. I had my credit card info punched in and everything, but at the very last moment some kind of moral judgment stuck me and I started to second guess the decision. I know that GW2 is going to be released sometime in 2012, so if I go and buy something now I'll have maybe 3 months of time with it, possibly less, before I abandon the game entirely and devote all my time to GW2. So would the $60 for D3 really be worth it if I only play the game for 3 months? That's like $20 a month! That's more than a WoW subscription! On that notion it seemed a little stupid to make the purchase.

I've still got a stockpile of games sitting in my Steam Library, and if I really get desperate for something to do I guess I could always go and grind out 50/50 in the Hall of Monuments. Though, honestly I don't really see that happening anytime soon.

Friday, June 15, 2012

GW2 Video Reception!

As you may have read earlier, I put together a time lapse video during the last Beta Weekend. (If you don't know, well then you should go check it out because apparently the whole internet is talking about it!)

Wow! First off I couldn't be more happy with some of the comments I'm getting. You people are amazing! And secondly, 16,200 views in 4 days is no laughing matter! I had an idea that people would like what I was putting together, but this goes way beyond what I could have imagined. So thank you to everyone who's watched, reposted, shared, talked about, or in any other way contributed to spreading my video around the internet. You are all gentlemen (or women) and scholars. I salute you.

Also, I figured I'd take this opportunity to answer a few questions that keep popping up.

How do you hide your character in a screenshot?
Hopefully ArenaNet will change this and allow for a first person view mode, but if they don't it's actually quite simple. 1) Type /sleep. 2) Zoom in the camera a little. 3) Your character should now be hidden. If your character is still in the screenshot you may have to play with the viewing angle a little so they are hidden, but it shouldn't take much. I've found that using a Human works best since out of all the races right now they're the smallest and the Charr's horns have a nasty habit of getting into your screenshots regardless what you do to hide them.

How did you take that many screenshots!?
I used a handy program called chronolapse. It's super easy to setup and you can set it to take a screenshot at whatever time interval you want. Then you set a folder you want it to save the screenshots to and voila! There you have it! 10,000 screenshots, every 3 seconds, all saved in one place!

On the usability side I did find out that in order for chronolapse to actually work right you have to set Guild Wars 2 to "Fullscreen Windowed" mode, under screen resolution, otherwise for whatever reason chronolapse will just take screenshots of your desktop, which is very much not what I want everyone looking at. Also, once I had taken all the screenshots I did reorganize them so that each location was separated into it's own folder, this made for putting the final video together a lot easier since I could edit each segment individually instead of having to cut up one clip a bunch (23 to be exact) times.

Why did you take screenshots instead of video?
The short answer is: I wanted to save disc space. 10,000 screenshots comes out to about 2GB, whereas 8hours of uncompressed 1080p video is on the upwards of 1.4 TERABYTES!

The long answer is: If I'm taking 1080p video at 30fps and then speeding it up to the rate at which I made the time lapse I would effectively be cutting 89 of every 90 frames out of the videos. That's a lot of wasted footage. If you do the math, 8 hours of video is 864,000 frames and I would only be actually using 10,000 of those. So instead of wasting all those (854,000) frames, I chose to cut out the middle man and just go straight for the screenshots. This speeds up the editing process, since I'm using smaller file sizes (2GB of screenshots instead of 1.4TB of videos), and I don't have all this extra footage wasting my disc space that will eventually just end up on the cutting room floor.

Where is this Sylvari area?
It's in the southwest corner of Kessex Hills. Lychcroft Mere.

In the end all I have to say to everyone is:

Thank you for your support and yes I will definitely be making more videos down the road.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

SuperMeat Boy and RSI

Super Meat Boy is going to give me RSI if I don't buy a USB controller by next week.

It's totally retarded but I can't stop playing it. There's this sadistic satisfaction I get from jumping chunks of meat into spinning sawblades. It doesn't even matter if it takes me a million tries to finish a level. Watching the replay afterwards is awesome. You get to see the rat race of all the little balls of meat dying horrible deaths.

I like simple games like this in the downtime between Guild Wars 2 Beta Events. It really does a great job of getting my mind off of things and allowing me to chill out for a bit, but stupid Super Meat Boy is this addiction that's going to end up killing my hands. Oh well. At least I'm having fun.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

GW2 Making Improvements

Before the June Beta Weekend Event ArenaNet went through a list of the changes they were making. Many of those changes were really easy to understand and generally straightforward, but the one change "UI Improvements" was pretty general. In the end it ended up being a lot of little updates that caused some gigantic improvements.

The first thing I noticed was the updates made to combat text notifiers, most notably being the new feedback for confusion damage. As you probably know by now, I play a Mesmer and confusion is a condition almost entirely unique to Mesmers. In the previous BWE, and subsequent Stress Test, I had actively been trying to figure out what exactly confusion did. Does it do a lot of damage? Was it worth it? Should I put more effort into building up stacks of confusion? How worthwhile is Cry of Frustration anyway? I would dig through the combat log to see what confusion was doing and most of the time it was more work than it was worth to track down one tick of confusion damage in the multitude of notifications flooding my combat log.

Now with this new update it's obvious. Confusion actually has it's own unique damage notifier. You can see it in the screenshot above. It's super easy to see how much damage its doing, and how often. Other combat notifiers that are especially awesome now are the new critical hit text and the revised notifiers for combo field combos. 

If anyone combos with your combo field a heart will show up over their character. Not only does it show that they've made a combo it also says what condition they caused, if they caused one. This makes combat a lot more fun, and if you're a class that generates a lot of combo field opportunities you get some great positive feedback. You can actually see if your support is working effectively.

The other big change, which is really subtle, is the update to the condition and boon notifiers. Now there's this little white stroke that decreases around the condition or boon flag. It's super subtle and that's ok. Even this little change goes miles to show some more minute information that can be extremely important if you need to know when to start stacking cripples back onto your foes. Even in the WvWvW combat I participated in above you can obviously see what's going on at a glance. It's awesome.

This last one I got a lot of joy from. The new 'map completion' notifier.

Previously the notification came in the form of a letter, the same way you get from filling out an NPC Heart anywhere else in the map. I love the treasure chest, it's so satisfying. I feel like I've truly accomplished something and having this unique chest popping up really brings me back to completing a dungeon in GW:EotN, super fun. If you haven't gotten the chance to complete a map yet I highly recommend it. The rewards are great, 52 silver, a sword, a set of shoulders, a mystic key, some cloth, and 2,500xp. I know I for one am going to be striving for 100% map completion once GW2 launches. This is the first time I actually feel encouraged to go for it! I'll get more than just an achievement!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

GW2 Looking Really Good

I have to say, after I vanquished some salty pirate dogs and stole all their treasure, my Mesmer is Looking Really Good.

If it was up to me I'd like to go for something a little more regal, but the claw hand gloves are super awesome looking and I like skulls, so it's a tough decision to make.

The mask is from the story mode of Ascalon Catacombs so I'm super happy that ArenaNet didn't wipe our characters because I ended the last Stress Test a level below the required 35 for the mask. This upset me a little considering you only need to be level 30 to complete story mode and the rewards at the end have lvl 35 requirements and now there was the potential chance that I'd never be able to equip the mask. Maybe the level requirement discrepancy is just a minor oversight on ArenaNet's part, but still it did leave me with a bitter taste even though the whole dungeon was so much fun. 

At any rate, this time around I could finally equip the mask and use the gear I'd worked so hard to achieve. Even if it took a month to finally wear my gear, I was happy.

As you read previously, I actually spent nearly all of my time this weekend parked in areas taking screenshots so even though I was logged in for nearly all of the BWE I didn't actually get that much playtime in. That being said, I was pleased with how GW2 has structured itself so that you can play the game for a very small amount of time and still feel satisfied. In the last BWE I spent close to 30hours of total playtime grinding and rushing around getting 100% in every zone I could, and this time around I maybe spent a handful of hours finishing up some things and playing sPvP and WvWvW events. 

I was satisfied. GW2 is coming together brilliantly.

Apart from playing around with some of the new content I also started an effort to catalog the ugly monsters I came across. Initially I was just questing around and filling out some hearts in Gendarran Fields, but once I came across these guys it really hit me. There's some crazy monsters up in Tyria.

This Risen Abomination started the whole idea with his spectacular grotesqueness. I just had to take a screenshot of him. God is he ugly. And unstoppable, or so it says. I hope you're happy First Haven, dealing with the undead threat isn't pleasant. 

The big guy, Veteran Ettin Chieftain, was on a skill point I needed to get near Icegate Gorge so I made him take a dirt nap. My advice for you, if you're ever faced up with the big guy, don't get hit. It's not a good way to start your day.

On a final note, I made sure to stop by the local Quaggan and say "Hi." They quite friendly once you get to know them, just be mindful of the sharks.

What stuck out for you this time around? I just can't get over how amazing GW2 looks. It's straight up gorgeous.

Monday, June 11, 2012

GW2: The Beauty of Tyria

For this Beta Weekend Event I decided to do something a little bit different.

I made a time lapse showcasing Tyria, and how amazing the land is to look at. I realized that I'll have plenty of time to play the game later, and since all this effort to level up and build my characters will eventually be wiped it made since to take a more casual approach to enjoying the BWE. This way I could have something of value to take away from the BWE that's more than just a couple screenshots, or some shiny new shoulders. And you can enjoy it too.

The one thing I didn't think about, but got a good kick out of once I started putting together all of my footage, is how often people would unsuspectingly photobomb my video. In the actual video you hardly notice them, but some of them are quite funny if you take them completely out of context.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Humble Indie Bundle V gets bigger

For those of you who are still on the fence about this whole Humble Indie Bundle V deal, it's worth considering that they just added Braid, Super Meat Boy, and Lone Survivor to the bunch. That brings the grand total to 8 games and you only need to spend $8 to get everything. That's $1 a game! What a deal!

If you've already bought the bundle don't worry! You can use your old purchase link to go and activate the new additions at no extra cost! It just got crazy up in here!

GW2 Finding a home

For those of you who are just now getting into the GW2 culture it may be difficult to find a place to fit in. Thankfully over at Attached To Keyboard Tasha has aggregated a ton of data and opinions on people's thoughts of their servers after the first BWE. Furthermore, there's an awesome post over on GuildWars2Guru with all the data on which servers well known communities will be flocking to.

The second list made it particularly easy for me to find out where I was going to house my characters. See I knew from the get go that I intend to PvP a lot, so that cut down the list of possible choices quickly. Combined with the fact that a lot of the DAoC guilds were congregating on Sorrow's Furnace my server choice essentially became a no brainer. I would live on Sorrow's Furnace and PvP with the big boys. So far it's been working out quite well.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised of the Sorrow's Furnace population. My typical experiences from PvP servers included groups of hostile, belittling, and immature super egos that dominated most of the server. So I figured I could expect much of the same here. I couldn't have been more wrong. I'd constantly get help questing, and people would be more than happy to just stick around in a group even after finishing an escort quest. There was a point when I stumbled into a group while wandering around Kessex Hills and before I had even stopped to think about it we had finished every renown heart in the entire zone, and cleared multiple dynamic events. Some of which at least a few group members had already done before.

If this is a sign of how GW2 is going to shape up in the future I have to say that it's going to be a wonderful place to live. The important thing is community and it sure feels like GW2 has it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


So I finished LIMBO today and it got me to thinking about story, and how some games approach it in unique ways.

See here's LIMBO, a brilliantly artistic game with a definite sense of moody atmosphere, but the story is essentially whatever you want to make of it. Is the kid running from something? Is he trying to get somewhere? Is he trapped in some eternal death machine? Any one of these could be correct, or none of them.

There's nothing in the game that gives you a sense of what's going on, and really maybe it doesn't really matter. As a challenging, and sometimes rewarding, moody platform puzzler LIMBO succeeds. Even without dialogue, or context, it kept me playing. Maybe I just wanted to see the next new and unique way the developers had devised to kill that kid. God knows I had to have killed that kid hundreds of times. Electrocuted, stabbed by giant spiders, torn to bits by saw blades, and jumped to his death, again, again, and again. Maybe that's part of the fun in LIMBO, maybe the whole point of it is to die, get back up, and try again.

Was I satisfied? I thought the game did a great job artistically, and there were some moments where it made a wry smile creep up onto my face. LIMBO definitely pleased me, but it left me wondering.

What exactly did I just play for the last 3 hours?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Transit of Venus

Given that the next time this solar event will happen is in 2117 I figure it's definitely worth at least mentioning.

For those of you who may not be living in the right area, or who are stuck with crappy cloud cover and cant observe it, there's an online live feed Over on Wired.

And I took a photo.

See that black dot? That's Venus 41,840,000 km away and traveling at 35.02km/sec. Man space is amazing.

GW2 Gearing up for BWE2

Now that ArenaNet has posted what we'll be able to see and do in this coming Beta Weekend Event the question arises as to what will you ACTUALLY do?

With all this new content you could spend the entire weekend crafting, exploring and fighting bandits without even stepping foot into the new PvP content. Likewise, it's entirely possible for you to spend your entire time locked in brutal combat with the newly added sPvP tournament mode. Will your team be victorious, or will you be crushed by your foes? But perhaps, it fits your fancy to go look into the explorable Ascalon Catacombs and spend all your time vanquishing the newly formed ghosts of olde?

I know I for one haven't spent nearly enough time with sPvP and WvWvW content so I'm definitely going to make sure to at least do a tournament or two, and find out what this Dark Room they speak of has to offer. I do love tricks and traps. Also, I've finally gotten my rig set up for recording video (sorry no streaming yet) so I've definitely got some plans for a steady flow of content after the beta has run its course. Expect glorious screenshots and battle reports at the very least!

Which means if you've got any ideas on what you'd like to see feel free to let me know! My Mesmer would be more than happy to risk life and limb for you.