Good morning cadets… welcome to the flight deck… err I mean… never mind. It is in fact another morning, and I may or may not have actually gotten some sleep last night. Enough that I was able to wake up ahead of the alarm clock and get a minor head start on the day… that I have gloriously squandered. I have a huge day ahead of me, namely that I have to fix an issue that I did not realize was broken until yesterday. The old process is a rats nest of ancient visual basic… so here’s hoping I can gut it and replace it with something that works better.
Yesterday Syp from Bio Break posted an article that rang true for me, called Living Story, Dead Interest. In the article he talks about how the whole “living story” construct in Guild Wars 2 seems to be lacking any real traction for him. That the rapid fire biweekly story changes are happening too fast for him to really know what is going on in that world. Based on the comments to the post including one from me… it seems like there is a wide variety of players that just are not getting into the direction that Arena Net has taken the game.
Ultimately for me my malaise with Guild Wars 2 goes a little bit deeper than this. There are so many things I like about this game. I think the world is gorgeous and does an amazing job of disguising that it is running on a relatively primate graphics engine compared to its peers. I think the combat is fun and easy to get into and gives an almost arcade quality to the experience. I love the changes they made to inventory management, and I love the ability to dump your crafting materials in the bank wherever you happen to be… and then later access your bank from every crafting machine in the world.
The problem is… even with all this good.. I just simply do not care about the world. It is wild and expansive… and feels completely dead to me. There are interesting races and locations, but I don’t feel like I know anything about them. The game chose to abolish two things… roles and quests, but the problem I have is that in neither case did they really replace them with something anywhere near as engaging. I am one of those people who actually does at least skim through quests as I am doing them. I feel they give me a sense of purpose out in the world.
In the world of Guild Wars 2… I can’t even recall the name of the world mind you… I feel like I have no purpose at all. My entire gaming experience is about popping around the world and performing whatever task is needed to check off various flavored dingbats on my map. The story just is not there for me, and the class quest line story is too few and far between to really matter. I don’t really feel like I care about any of the cast of characters I am supposed to. I don’t like the characters, I occasionally like that I recognize the person doing the voice acting.
Back to the problem at hand… the Living Story. My big issue is that Arena Net has chosen to create a series of disposable content, rather than fleshing out the world over time and making the entire experience permanently richer for it. Additionally I hate all content that expires.. I hate feeling like I am in a rush to experience it. The end result is not me being pulled into the content and running around in a mad dash to try and experience everything… but instead me simply giving up on the game entirely. Right now I end up logging in roughly once a month when the whim hits me… I kill a few things and log out, never really finding a purpose for playing.
I tweeted about this yesterday, and often times retweet each time a new Battle Bards post is made, but I feel like this does not give enough credit to just how amazing this podcast is. One of my vices is gaming music, namely the grand sweeping tracks that are usually associated with massively multiplayer online games. Twice a month the Battle Bards… Syp, MMOGC, and Syl bring you a themed show delving into the truly excellent music that accompanies your gaming experience. If you are not listening to each new show you are really missing out because this is one of the best podcasts out there.
This latest post was especially nostalgic for me in that they chose to focus on the music of Everquest 2. I have so much love for the world of Norrath, and a good part of this is wrapped up in the music that has always been associated with it. I fell in love with Everquest the first time I heard the opening theme… it was so grand and sweeping and did not feel like any other game music I had experienced. Sure it sounds dated now but at the time it was a midi masterpiece, and I love the way that Everquest 2 drew upon this same musical style for its opening theme.
One of the interesting side commentary I had while listening to this podcast surrounds their feeling about the theme for Antonica. While everyone seemed to like the track, they did not feel that it sounded like an outdoor zone theme. It was commented that it sounded like something from a movie soundtrack and not that of a video game. While I agree with the last statement, I feel that EQ2 outdoor zones have a very movie aspect to them.
It would not be a fitting track for the scale of say a World of Warcraft zone, but for Everquest 2 it works well. Essentially all of these outdoor zones are on a scale that just isn’t seen in other games. Antonica for example is roughly 5-6 times the size of Elwynn Forest in World of Warcraft. It encompasses numerous distinct biomes, is the entry way to half a dozen dungeons and instanced zones. The sheer scale is very movie like and dramatic, so as you are roaming around it… this jaunty theatrical music seems to fit.
Ultimately this has always been the overwhelming thing that I loved about Everquest 2. Everything about the world feels epic in proportions. There is a dungeon out in in the Jarsath Wastes on Kunark called Chelsith that you have to approach by water. As you are swimming out you approach what appears to be a rock partially submerged, but as you dip under the water you see that this is the tip of the head of an ancient Iksar statue that has been long submerged… and that the entrance to Chelsith is t the base of its feet. There are so many moments like that, that just say over and over again… this world is massive.
Yesterday we soft launched our new guild website, and are super pumped that it is starting to get some traction among our users. It is still very much a work in progress and there are various bits and pieces that we want to do to expand it. The graphical style and skin work is 100% the product of my co-worker and our master guild hall decorator… Audrae. I know she has some future plans like to make the background swap each time the page loads, and have it pull from a pool of user submitted scenic shots. Right now we have a promotional shot from Elder Scrolls Online as a static background, but that should change before long.
Essentially to move to a more living and easier to use website, we needed to completely abandon our previous site. As a result we are soft launching this site and will eventually set the old forums into a read-only mode. They will always be accessible off the archives link in the menu, but this is only to keep from losing almost a decade worth of posts and material. Once we have made this shift we will redirect housestalwart.com to point to the new site as well as stalwartonline.com.
Essentially this is a revision in a long line of attempts to move Stalwart from being a game centric community to a larger multi-gaming community. We have had a presence in almost every game released in recent years, but the previous forums were extremely World of Warcraft focused. Despite my efforts to juggle the content in a way to keep them from being that… the old format just did not work that well. Now we are switching to a more discussion and category based system that lists all the new content equally without burying it under a series of folders.
Here is hoping that our members will like the switch and that the new forums will revitalize our community. Over the last year or so the old forums have been completely dead. As a result users have just stopped checking in over time. Here is hoping that the new content and new approach can draw them back out of the shadows and participating again. Our Rift guild has been wildly successful, and my hope is to harness this new energy to do some really cool stuff. In the past two week we went from 5 members and questioning if this was actually a good idea… to over 40 members and wondering what exactly we are going to do with everyone. It is definitely a good thing.
Well I have rattled on again and squandered whatever time I gained by getting up before the alarm. I need to get off here and finish getting ready. This morning I need to wake my wife up and make sure she is getting ready because she has a few things that she needs to get done today. I have a mountain of work awaiting me when I get to the office, and I feel like it is going to take every last bit of it to get through the day. I hope you all have great days… and feel free to check out our new website. I feel like the majority of my readers are guild members already.