This week in Guild Wars 2

While I usually strive to be lighthearted in the introduction to this weekly column, this week I must break with tradition to discuss a serious issue. Experts in Washington have determined that a large group of people — online gamers in particular — are at risk of suffering from a sudden malady in the very near future. For unknown reasons, this affliction is predicted to leave European sufferers with merely sleeplessness, but for many in the Americas it will result in a rash of absences from work and school.

While the affliction does not appear to have a formal name, the experts are referring to it as a “stress test” (don’t you love experts with their impossible-to-decode jargon?)

Families of the afflicted are advised to allow the sufferer to be supplied with plenty of food and drink, a reliable internet connection, and privacy. The outbreak is predicted to start on Monday, but will all too quickly burn through its target population, leaving them exhausted, cranky, and prone to staring at a login screen saying odd things like “More!” or “But I just need a bit more time!”

Still lots of material from the April Beta Weekend Event, so I’ve marked those with this notation: BWE.

Official Guild Wars 2 news

  • On the official Guild Wars 2 Facebook page: “We’ve reached our milestone of 490,000 Facebook fans, and we’ve got some brand-new art for you! Did you find the Shadow Behemoth big and intimidating? This Undead Globster Boss might make him look a little tamer. This early concept art piece by Matthew Barrett depicts a hulking maritime undead boss. Did this monstrosity make it into the final game? You’ll have to play to find out.”
  • ArenaNet also maintains a Pinterest board, showing interesting Guild Wars 2-themed items and artwork.
  • BWE Link Roundup – Beta Weekend Event. “Last week we held our first-ever Beta Weekend Event, a humble in-game get together attended by hundreds of thousands of our closest friends. This was an old-school beta; a lot of the lessons learned and data collected from the event are being applied toward improving the game as I write this. We want to extend a huge thanks to everyone who played. Your feedback, bugs, and participation are absolutely crucial to our goal of making Guild Wars 2 the best game possible at launch.”
  • PC GamerGuild Wars 2 wants you to play with friends. “A lot of my friends are playing The Old Republic, but I can’t group with 90% of them. Most of them are on different servers than I am, so if we want to play together, one of us has to abandon our established characters. And even if we could transfer servers, half of the characters are on a different faction, so I couldn’t group with them anyways. MMOs often make it too darn hard to play with your friends — a ridiculous state of affairs for the most social genre in all of gamingdom. But ArenaNet is looking to change that with Guild Wars 2, and revealed the first details in a development blog last month. We followed up with Lead Game Designer Eric Flannum to find out more.”
  • On the official Guild Wars 2 Facebook page: “We’ll be conducting a stress test on Monday May 14 from 11 AM to 6:00 PM PDT (-7 GMT). This special test event is open only to Pre-Purchase customers who have registered their accounts. With your help, we can conduct important tests and address some of the issues we identified during our first Beta Weekend Event. During this event, all you need to do is play normally with a new or existing character on your Beta account using the same game client. Please note that since this is a stress test of our servers, you may experience some in-game performance issues. If you’ve pre-purchased Guild Wars 2 and wish to participate in the stress test, we recommend that you register the account and download the game client.”
  • BWE ArenaNet blog — Mike O’Brien on the Guild Wars 2 Beta. “The other week we hosted our first Beta Weekend Event, when hundreds of thousands of players who pre-purchased Guild Wars 2 got their first chance to play the game. This was a huge milestone for ArenaNet; with no NDAs and no press embargoes, the beta version of Guild Wars 2 would have to stand on its own before the full force of the Internet.”
  • NCsoft Merchandise Store — Guild Wars 2® Charr Plush. “This adorable plush version of Guild Wars 2’s ferocious feline charr will bring a little cuteness and attitude to your life. This fiercely loyal charr companion is made of soft, high-quality material with rugged construction fit for a charr centurion.”

Recent GuildMag posts

  • Age of Deceit – Funeral and Succession. “The faint sun shone brightly on the hill where the mourning crowd gathered. The people surrounded a large grave made of obsidian. For now, it was open, revealing the late emperor in ornate, traditional Canthan clothing, and his hands on the hilt of his sword over his chest. However, soon the grave would be sealed and a magnificent statue of Kaineng Tah would be erected atop of it. Nobles from all around the Empire came to Raisu to pay homage to the deceased emperor. Some of them were his enemies once, but these former chieftains have long since understood that Kaineng Tah was worthy of becoming their ruler, and his vision led to the creation the first human empire on Tyria. They all owed him that much.”
  • The Content Must Flow! “Just a little over a week ago, the first publicly available Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event was at an end. A painful reminder for people suffering from withdrawal, such as myself. Before the beta weekend had started, we here — at overly secretive GuildMag headquarters — started a thread where we had to decide what to write about once the floodgates open and thousands of people — us as tiny specks among them — rushed to experience Guild Wars 2 for the first time. A cursory glance at the press world is enough to realise how difficult it is to single out a particular highlight of the weekend. Kotaku sung songs about Tyria’s fantastical beauty, PC Gamer teasingly offered World versus World footage before the event, Rock Paper Shotgun extensively covered PvE, and GuildMag offered a first timer’s take on the game. Many opted to take the easy way out and simply stream the game live — a picture is worth a thousand words, after all. I initially had no bloody clue what to write about. Not until I’ve spent my first sleepless night with Guild Wars 2.”

Fan articles and blog posts

  • BWE Ten Ton HammerGuild Wars 2 BWE Roundtable Impressions. “Following the first GW2 beta weekend event, we decided to utilize a slightly different format for our impressions than the norm. Rather than simply offer up a singular perspective, Ten Ton Hammer staff members got together for a brief roundtable discussion. Barlow, resident news editor on GuildWars2Hub.com, served as our moderator, and posed a number of questions about our overall beta experiences. It was an excellent discussion overall, and offers MMO gamers a much deeper and more interesting take on a beta weekend impressions piece than a single author could hope to provide.”
  • luna-atra.fr — Crafting Tool. [Raphia: From the same folks who brought you the character tool and the skill tool.]
  • BWE Examiner.comGuild Wars 2 public beta impressions, part 1 and part 2. “For nearly 30 hours over the span of just 2½ days, I played Guild Wars 2. I felt the weight of my Guardian’s mace slam into the ground healing my allies, I heard the quips of the Mesmer that accompanied me on my journey, and I saw more people working together in a video game than I ever thought possible. Finally, after years of anticipation, I realized Guild Wars 2 might live up to my hype.”
  • BWE Joystiq — Exploring the beta and beyond in Guild Wars 2. “In a time when all MMORPGs charged a monthly subscription fee, Guild Wars was the shining light that brought said subscription fees weren’t the only future for the genre. For enthusiasts of the first game, ArenaNet didn’t need to change much in Guild Wars 2, but the upcoming title adds upon the instanced gameplay of the original by adding events and making the universe feel more alive than ever before. Gone are the healers and quests have been abandoned, but you shouldn’t see that as a bad thing, as ArenaNet’s new direction really drives home why Guild Wars 2 doesn’t seem to be your average MMO.”
  • BWE The EscapistGuild Wars 2 Preview. “World of Warcraft shook up the MMO space back in 2004, but a few years before, a small number of Blizzard Entertainment employees broke off to form Arena Net. Their first title, Guild Wars, released a few months after World of Warcraft with some unique ideas injected into what had largely become the standard format for world structures and monetary subscriptions in MMOs. Now the developers have a sequel nearing completion, and while Guild Wars 2 doesn’t aim to reinvent the wheel, there are a number of changes to the core design governing most MMOs that might even push the genre as a whole in some great new directions.”
  • Hunter’s Insight — How Big Is Guild Wars 2 Again? “It’s big. It’s really big. I saw this image on Reddit, and it’s pretty damn cool. There was no NDA so I don’t think it’s clear whether this is a leak or not. User that_shaman grabbed the world map file (or got it from someone who did) from the beta client, and spliced in the outposts from the original Guild Wars along with a few points of interest.”
  • BWE Rawrcast — I Got Eight Classes, But a Monk Ain’t One. “For months, I have been very skeptical of Guild Wars 2. Why? First, I’ve been burned by the hype machine behind title before. Second, I still remember what the original Guild Wars was like. It’s been five years and lasted about a month, but that experience is still burned into memory. It was a tediously instanced, grindy experience I did not want to repeat. Gaming-wise, I think of that brief time as wearing MMO-diapers before “graduating