Monthly Archives: July 2013

So Graceful! (Guild Wars 1)

Occasionally someone does something very innovative and it goes preety much unexplored. I think this might be the case here, and easy not to notice when it’s not one of the fresh, new, sparkly games but an old one.

I held off writing this until I had played a few months with Guild Wars 1 on it’s automation mode. Automation mode. Hmmm. Well it means that the game systems and events are now automated, not supported by a team of dedicated humans any more. Guild Wars 1 runs quietly on it’s own somewhere, presumably attended to only if anything goes horribly wrong. Does it work? Yes. So far, perfectly.  Is it still fun – yep. Am I happy. Ohhh yes.


It’s still there

After the the destruction of SWG, and CoH, both done with an unexamined hurr hurr “£business>playerbase” hurr attitude (cringe) this is  an absolute sparkly wonder. Don’t kill the old game, just… automate it – leave it for the fans to enjoy, build up some goodwill too (thus generating sales for new game).

And I’m very relieved they did this! I love this game. I want it  to still be around.  It is what it is, mind – pared down to essentials: on rails pve, a bit confining to be on a path – no buildings you can go into, you can’t climb the mountains etc. But it is incredibly beautiful, it runs like a dream, you can have a lot of fun with builds and the music is lovely. I have never tried the pvp yet (I’m still slowly playing through the campaigns), but others in my family have and I’m told its pretty decent pvp at that.

On the money side GW1 is a perfect example of how to sell things – a good product at a fair price (look ma, no hoogledy boogledy). There’s not much more to selling things by the way. Make sure people know you exist is in the mix for selling things too, and a way to deliver (distribution). Few more bits ‘n bobs. But nothing like all the jazz hands and contortions we’re seeing this year by marketing teams. Actually, about that: I do sometimes wonder if studios mistake the process of making money for A Game – A Game in which they attempt to outwit their playerbase. That would explain some of the complicated, untransparent, frankly weird things they do to part us from our money. Conflating profit with stealth based pvp against the customers.  Could be, could be.

But then I’m irritated with “monetization of players (see last post)” just now, so might be imagining things. Back to Guild Wars 1. I do not play this lots and lots. I amble in, usually when tired, play a section of a campaign  or try out a build and feel soothed and pleased, and have enjoyed myself thoroughly by the time I log out. I’m sure I’ll try the pvp sometime. Will there be anyone to play with? Well, now that you mention it – yes. There are not loads and hordes of people, but I do see people around. Plus I can always bribe a handy teenager (pizza!) to show me the ropes, eh.

It’s Wintersday around now, and so far all the automated festivals have been fine. You know, I do also get a strange sense of Arenanet lurking/watching –  not sure, might be that active imagination of mine. But I am certain it’s not (at this point anyway) anything approaching abandonware. More like… a very innovative experiment.

If it works it has some quite interesting implications. It means there’s no need for the unceremonious axing of old games we sometimes see when a studio wants to promote a new game. It means it’s perfectly possible that our children and even grandchildren have a better chance of playing the things we are playing now.  And they do quite like exploring the past. Legend of Grimrock was a surprise success here, and led to tryouts of Might and Magic (alas didn’t run). Text based games are played quite compulsively too, and GoG is regularly trawled for likely entertainment. I think Arenanet’s automation mode is a big step forward, and it would be lovely to see more things like it. I have never seen the commercial sense in alienating a loyal existing customer base.

Categories: Guild Wars 1

Irritation Fatigue (gaming in general)

It just struck me like a bolt out of the blue that  right now I’m only feeling inclined to play the games that irritate me the least. I think some kind of fatigue has set in, or lack of resilience when it comes to the immersion-breaking, tawdry, manipulative, verminous, tricksy, swindling, coercive ripoffery that is passing for the norm (… more fun than swearing). I mean … really!

In order I am avoiding:

bad performance, prefered playstyle, not enough bags, nag screens, forced anything, gimpware, paywalls, being game-punished for not logging in, toxic and unmoderated playerbase, hookerware-and-poses with no other options, lockboxes, pvp nerfs for pve, pve nerfs for pvp.

All the above are still so depressingly common, along with companies wondering why they don’t make money. Sheesh.

None of the games I’m playing now is perfect but I do play Neverwinter (no hidden sub, cash shop not too in face), Path of Exile (no doubt according to marketing people everywhere this should not exist at all), Guild Wars 1 (alas bag crisis but nothing else too annoying). None of my other normal, usual games do I feel like playing right now and I think they have too many items from my avoidance list is why. Irritation breaks immersion like nothing else.

Take me to another world! Drench me in diamonds, tell me strange tales and show me strange sights – fill my eyes with desire for digital goods that I wish to see often and own when I am in game – make the merchants preside over vast emporia of visual delight!  Let me adventure, conquer, fight, care, move with ease through layers of grandeur and mystery and own and accrue to something or create.  Allow me to feel Epic (you can tell I’m not feeling drawn to “gritty” just now).  Let me log out and know I was in a good place, and return because  I want to.

I will pay for that and the merchants will prosper and grow fat.

Update: and do you know what? Jeromai wrote it all far more eloquently and made better points too, here:

very worth a read.

More update: having played some today, added some more stuff to the annoying list! (and I have a feeling it is going to get longer still before I’m done with it.)

Categories: Game Design and Creation

I figured out why we’re having a heatwave !!


Bruleeing the Creme de la Creme?

I hope I get better at taking pictures.

Hmmm. I believe those are real chevrons. I better not tease him.

Categories: Edinburgh

HotS City, Killer Flowerpots (Wurm)

This is actually a fruit salad. I didn’t play a lot of anything in June because of the move. Only Wurm really, just to see if I could (ie check the interenet in this flat is ok). There were flowerpots to make – I managed one! And my Exodus Alliance decided they needed a challenge, so now I’m a HoTS. Which means I can write bits about PvP except everyone is paranoid about spies.

But I’ll secretly try to screenshot a tile of mycelium! Except I’ll ask the mayor first if it ok.

Categories: Fruit Salad, Life On Wurm, Shorts

In which I am not surprised.

Back sometime in March I was railing away at the current state of affairs and wrote:

“They all sound disjointed and overstimulated to me. Has anyone ever checked for lead in those ancient pipes? I do hope no money is going up noses.”



Categories: Shorts

Hot City, Killer Shoes (Edinburgh, festival season)


The Castle (which I’ve decided reminds me of Wurm)

If I look left from my temporary home’s front windows, I can see the entire top part of this big pile of secrets. It’s on an extinct volcano, there are secret entrances and tunnels. It belongs to the military too. You can walk around in some areas though.

My move was brutal but mercifully short, move number one now completed. I shall be here while builders do unspeakables to my home. I’m perched in the rooftops  very near Princes Street in Edinburgh, and the Festival is underway – I think. The Festival has so many parts, it’s hard to tell where it begins or ends. There are books and science and err theatre, comedy, film, music and more I’m sure. The Interactive Festival (includes games) is disappointingly cancelled this year but I don’t think I’ll be short of things to do somehow. Very soon now the Tattoo will begin and the early evenings will resound to gun and cannon fire (blanks I think I should point out), bagpipes, and fireworks.

And it’s hot, hot, hot.

Edinburgh in a heat wave is positively metallic. Princes street is what we used to call a bakoond (sort of a baking oven for bricks) in one of the languages of my youth, and all the tourists who expected fog and mystery look like prawns by the end of the day. I use lessons learned in that same youth to survive the heat, ambling out for long walks in the early morning and retreating to some interior coolness for the day. Siesta when possible and emerge again later if it’s not too hot a night.

Below my flat here are restaurants and clubs so that my front door is defended by bouncers – I feel very safe. It is noisy revelry at night and I sleep right through the racket with no trouble at all. One of the gifts of age 🙂 Which brings me to the shoes. This year the shoes are quite astounding. High, impossible, gorgeous, magnificent, lethal in all possible ways. I’m sure they make amazing melee weapons. They are also a hazard to the tipsy if worn. We have cobbles. And a tram being built. It must be quite a skill to get across a road in those shoes – and then of course they are total and utter traffic stoppers. They are more beautiful than cars. The shoes on women in Edinburgh this year are amazing. And I love looking at them! An unexpected bonus to being here.

Of course, I personally wear sparkly flipflops or chinese-old-man-shoes.

Then, there’s things you discover. I know I live here, but I don’t travel to the heart of it all that often. New businesses open, old ones fold, old buildings are renovated or more often destroyed, glass and concrete things spring up and I don’t notice a lot of it. So I’m enjoying the rediscovery.

Early in the morning, when I meander out not much is open. After an hour or so though, I am in need of a rest and refreshment so I look out for little places, open early where a cup of tea is on offer, and a seat. Treasure. I’m going to do a longer piece on Social Bite (Rose Street). You may or may not know what Social Bite is (your cup of coffee pays for one for a homeless person) – I’d never heard of it.  Anyway I like both the idea and the neat little cafe, conveniently close where I intend to pause again.

Then yesterday my feet took me towards Leith. My favourite internet cafe wasn’t open yet, so I stopped at Qupi (near the bottom of Leith Walk). Apparently this has been here for 12 years without me noticing it and it’s lovely! My nose led me in – it smells of delicious things with undertones of rosewater! Yesterday morning the temperature rose fast and early and I was grateful to find a place to stop.   Tea was served with a cold glass of water, and I subsided on a red velvet chair with golden trim to well, subside. The decor totally charmed me, eclectic but not fussy. I’m no expert so this is just a vague guess I think some things were part middle eastern/turkish? and some were vintage. I have a daugher who will love this… Not too much of anything though, not clutter and the layout means that a cool, scented breeze runs through. It was like finding a little opulent magic oasis. I enjoyed my cup of tea very much and was fortified for the trek back up Leith Walk under the blazing star we call our own.

I think that’s my brain empty for now. I’m not much of a camerawoman, but I’ll try and take some pics as I go.

Categories: Edinburgh

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