This week in Guild Wars 2

I do sometimes feel sorry for the folks at ArenaNet, especially the community managers. Their jobs, for all the benefits they may enjoy, must sometimes seem like blend of babysitting a pack of hungry, angry toddlers at nap time and being orderlies in a mental hospital. Almost every time the company announces new information about Guild Wars 2, there’s a strong roar of “You’re ruining the game!” from a small-but-vocal hard core of the fan base.

They go from Facebook updates and Twitter messages of passion and life-long devotion to the game to “Worst. Game. Ever.” in five seconds flat. I don’t mean the reasoned, rational responses, but the “OMG! WTF??!” whining. The developers could announce free cupcakes and ice cream and the complainers would be right back at them with accusations that they’re ruining the game — and the ice cream is fattening, and don’t they know some people are lactose-intolerant. I know fans have a lot emotionally invested in the game — after all, I’m a fan too — but this “The glass is half empty, and it’s dirty too” attitude has been getting worse the closer we get to finding out the release date.

Enough of me complaining about the complainers, or I risk getting complaints. The next closed beta event is timed just about perfectly — the folks who do videos are in desperate need of new footage. The lack of new video material is more than compensated for by the folks who write articles and blog posts, as you can see below.

Before the break, a couple of housekeeping items:

  1. If you’re one of the lucky folks who got into this weekend’s beta event, don’t break the NDA. I saw reports just before posting this column where someone was livestreaming the beta. I’m betting that person is out of the beta by the time you read this.
  2. Update: Yep. Not only has ArenaNet kicked the offenders out of the beta, but they’ve explicitly stated that violating your NDA can result in permanent loss of access to all ArenaNet games.

  3. If you’ve written a blog post or recorded a video that you think I should include in this column, send a link to to let me know about it. In the few short months since I started doing this column, I’m following more than twice the number of blogs and YouTube channels and I’m certain that I don’t find even half of what’s out there.

Official Guild Wars 2 news

  • ArenaNet blog — The Evolution of Narrative in Personal Story. “Hey, everyone! I’m Leif Chappelle, a member of the content design team responsible for implementing the personal story in Guild Wars 2. While we have gone into detail about some of our other content types, including dynamic events and PvP, we haven’t yet given you a behind-the-scenes look at how the personal story is designed. This blog post is here to remedy that, with a personal story of my own to help illuminate the process of creating the stories that will guide you through the vast world of Tyria.”
  • ArenaNet blog — Mike O’Brien on Microtransactions in Guild Wars 2. “In this month’s closed beta event, we’ll do some early testing of the Guild Wars 2 microtransactions system. Our microtransaction content isn’t nailed down yet, but we have a good framework in place to support it. So, I’d like to take a moment to explain our goals and the system we have developed to meet them.”
  • VG24/7 — Sitting comfortably? Guild Wars 2′s lore boss on story. “Guild Wars 2 is attempting to revolutionise story in MMOs by offering non-cosmetic choices and a personal touch to a genre filled with cookie-cutter options. We speak with Ree Soesbee, ArenaNet’s lore and continuity designer, on how this new-found sense of freedom ties into the biggest MMO release of the year.”

Recent GuildMag posts

  • Guild Wars 2 Pre-Purchase — Good News, Bad News? “A few days ago, ArenaNet finally spread the news of when you will be able to pre-purchase Guild Wars 2, and what goodies you can expect from pre-purchasing one of three upcoming editions. While still not an announcement of the much yearned for release date, the news are an important milestone in the development of the game. On April 10, those who are sure about the success of Guild Wars 2 will be able to voice their certainty with their wallets, and ArenaNet will be able to gauge the preliminary measure of interest there is in their ambitious project. In addition to this mutual benefit, the news also come with a subliminal message — ArenaNet are steadily nearing completion. Good news all around, and that’s not even mentioning the goodies all three editions will come with — a free ticket to all beta events, the ability to join the game three days ahead of launch, and a fashionable ring to aid you in early levels.”
  • ArenaNet blog: Microtransactions. “Mike O’Brien has a post at the ArenaNet blog on the vexatious-to-many topic of microtransactions”
  • Blooming Minds in Dark Times. “Enduring the centuries in a small corner of a bay along the Tarnished Coast, the Pale Tree grew and grew, avoiding the devastation that was sweeping around her. Finally, around two decades before the present, the tree began to bear fruit of sorts, except it was not fruit at all, but cocoons holding members of a new race, called the sylvari. Fully grown, yet not fully experienced with the world, these beings approached existence with a sense of wonder and curiosity, unlike the other, much older and more experienced races.”
  • Guild Wars 2 vs. The Traditional MMO. “After two days of downloading over the university’s internet connection, I finally exit the launcher for Star Wars: The Old Republic and start packing up my laptop. One of my friends had given me one of the seven-day free trials they were passing out to subscribers so we could play together, and with a strange curiosity I accepted. There was a lot of confusion on how well SWTOR was going and whether people liked it or not. As I was still waiting for any info from ArenaNet, I wanted to see what it was like for myself, and what Guild Wars 2 was going to compete with. Trying to have an open mind, I set everything up and jumped onto Skype, joining the server my friends were on.”

Fan articles and blog posts

  • Flamethrowing — Engineer Trait Synergy. “Some of the synergies in the trait trees are fairly obvious, especially when considering combinations with weapons. […] Because there’s a lot of crossover, I made a little tool to help me sort through them. You can see the tool in action at I basically tagged all the traits by what they affect and color coded them. You can use the list on the side to filter the traits.”
  • Mana ObscuraGuild Wars 2: Spellcasters Quick Guide. “If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll probably notice that I have an ongoing love-affair with spellcasters in MMOs. Call it a mage, wizard or sorcerer — if it hurls magic then I’ll probably be playing it. Perhaps it’s because I identify with the thought of an intellectual magus studying to become proficient in arcane lore. Maybe I just have a primal desire to launch balls of fire from my hands. Who knows.”
  • Dragon Season — Meet the Professions. “Classes in Guild Wars 2 are called professions. One of the main factors that determine the identity and the role of the player in the game, is the choice of the profession of his/her character. The player is able to choose the profession of their character during the third step of its creation. This choice has great impact on the character’s design, because it determines the type of armor that they can wear and also defines the weapons they can use. Each profession provides you with a very different pool of skills, allowing for a completely different play style.”
  • Dragon Season have a Guild Wars 2 pre-purchase countdown timer on their home page. [Raphia: But note that it’s set to GMT-2, for those of us not on that side of the Atlantic.]
  • Guild Wars 2 Headquarters — ANet Killed our Fansites. “In their blog, ANet said that they would continue to work with their fansites and would continue to support them, but let’s be honest here…this is an attempt to save face for basically saying…sorry for s*&^#ing you! (But in a professional manner). Don’t p*ss in my tea and tell me it’s lemon! If this is the direction you decided to take, why don’t you take the time and contact your fansites to tell them exactly how you plan to support them. You just shocked a big minority of your player base, but a very dedicated minority at that for spending their time and money into creating fansites for your product.”
  • Team Baka — Signator. “Create your personalized signature in one minute!”
  • Guild Wars 2 Junkies — Beta Invites!! Not Another Media Only Event!!! “Log into your email client and check to see if you have been selected for the end of March beta event. If you didn’t find an invite in your box yet and you hit refresh every thirty seconds for the last eleven hours since this was posted on Facebook (yes I know I was slow with this) don’t lose hope. The invites are being spread out over the next few days.”
  • Guild Wars 2 Guru — Twilight Arbor Dungeon – PCGamer Preview. “The latest PCGamer has an article about the high level dungeon near the Sylvari starting area. Obviously I can’t scan the pages and post them here, but if you are interested, the May 2012 Issue 226 has it. But I’ll share some of the interesting details.”
  • Yoshi’s Guild Wars 2 Hub — Sum of the Parts – A Look At PvP Dynamics. “Since the PvE party post was so popular, I thought I’d do one for structured PvP and talk a little about that. But before we do this post, take a quick jump to this one and tell me what other things you want me to post about! Thanks, now let’s hope to it.”
  • GW2 Evolution — Dynamic Event System. “Dynamic events refer to any event that occurs in a persistent area as a result of players interacting with and exploring the world. They are called “dynamic” because there are multiple outcomes that also result in new events, creating a cascade effect. Once an event has triggered, it will develop whether or not a player attends it. Because of this, there is no real concept of failure or success — the result of any event will simply cause a change in the surrounding area. For example, if monsters are successful in raiding an area, they may become strong enough to occupy a fort, which could then be taken by players.”
  • GW2 Evolution — How to be a Great Beta Tester. “I thought with the upcoming beta of Guild Wars 2 (which most of us won’t be in, but we can hope) I would write a short article on how to excel as a beta tester, with one point to developers. This is based on being a beta tester for over 15 years (in both gaming and military weapon system software applications), and being honored in almost every beta test for giving great feedback. In that time I’ve only had one developer who shunned their testers outright, so that bodes well for the developers. ArenaNet in my opinion is going to do a great job with their beta process so we have little to worry about.”
  • Yoshi’s Guild Wars 2 Hub — Human Life – Not At All Like Second Life. “Before you read this post, go to this one and let me know what kinds of topics you’d like to see me post about. I’ll do my best to cover them all! That said, now we return to the lore of GW2. Last time, we finished the lore of the present-day GW expansions, which means we can now move on to the 250 years leading up to GW2. I was going to go chronologically, but it was considerably easier to do this topically. So, we’re going to go race-by-race and go through the last two-and-a-half centuries.”
  • Blog of the Vagabond — Beta to the Max. “Lots of news this week about betas. In a post by ANet talking about Pre-Purchasing, we learned that all pre-purchase orders (digital, deluxe, and collector’s editions) come with three perks: a Hero’s Band in-game item, 3 days headstart access pre-launch, and access to all beta weekend events.”
  • Under the Pale TreeGuild Wars 2: Not as straightforward as it seems. “Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve covered how both gender and race are represented in Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, pointing out that despite not being perfect (and let’s be honest, unfortunately nothing ever will be), ANet does a damn good job with how they portray these things. This post is going to be talking about the subject of sexuality and how it’s portrayed within the games.”
  • Hunter’s Insight — Armour Sets From Beta. “MMO Champion has a great thread that has compiled armour sets from the beta. Included are 8 sets, for each profession and gender in the beta. Not to mention a few asura styles at the end. I’ll post the sets below, but one of the really amazing aspects of the thread is that someone compiled what you could see in the PvP storage area for armours into 3 lists. Each list has around 30 sets of armour. Not much you can tell from just the names of sets but it’s pretty cool. So be sure to check that out.”
  • Demajen — Assuming Direct Control. “Control is important in any game. Controls are the means with which you interact with whatever character or characters you are playing. Controls can make or break a game. And, in my opinion, they should be completely invisible. Now I don’t mean that literally. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t have any kind of visual interface, or be able to change key bindings or anything like that.”
  • Shewstr — Separation Anxiety: Sylvari vs. Reality. “This post on love and sexuality in Guild Wars 2 is a semi-response to Verene’s recent post, “Guild Wars 2: Not as straight as it seems
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