Guild Wars 2 Content Developer Lays out Plans for the Year

Andrew Grey, the Lead Guild Wars 2 Content Developer took to the game’s forums today to discuss some of what players can look forward to in the year to come. But he started by saying that “2019 was hard. I’ve been with ArenaNet since 2004 and I can say without question that 2019 was the studio’s most challenging.” And it was indeed a difficult year for ArenaNet with layoffs and a few major departures.

The post also mentions that they are laying the groundwork for an exciting future and that details they can reveal right now are a bit sparse.

To start with though, they’ll be revealing more information about Visions of the Past at PAX East, which takes place at the end of February.

The map for episodes three and four will be meta focused with a push and pull feel similar to WvW. This also makes it sound a lot like the Silverwastes which is to this day a popular zone to play in.

He then went on to talk about what the Living World would be like after episode four. “After episode four, again I’m going to be somewhat vague here, but we want to revisit some of the types of content we pioneered in the past. We learned a lot with Living World Season One and one thing it did very well was to bring the community into the story, and make their actions drive the plot forward. The Nightmare Tower, the election between Evon Gnashblade and Ellen Kiel – these things are memorable experiences because the community’s combined efforts had an impact on the world. As you may have noticed, we’ve been testing tech with things like the boss rush event, that we hope to leverage later on in The Icebrood Saga to create a unique, community experience. But, learning lessons from Season 1, the bulk of this content will be built in a way that it is still playable after the Icebrood Saga comes to a close.” ArenaNet will also be focusing more on repeatable content.

On Fractals, he said that “Reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated” and also apologized for the silence on the topic. Cameron Rich, the designer of the Fractals from Season 3 will be working on a new Fractal and the studio is still very committed to making them work.

What he says on raids though is a little bit less optimistic. “Raids are a trickier beast. They’re a unique experience and community that we want to find better ways to support, the biggest challenge in creating more is the small audience they attract. We gathered data to determine why, and the most common answer was that there is a giant leap in difficulty between raids and other endgame content, and there isn’t anything to help players work their way up.

Our intention was for Strike Missions to be that intermediary step into 10-person content. As we’ve mentioned before and you’ve likely noticed, strike missions are getting harder. Once a full suite of strike missions is complete there should be a graceful ramp up to the existing raid content rather than the imposing leap that previously existed, and our hope is once that ramp is in place, the number of players participating in raids will go up. In addition to that, we’re striving to make improvements to Strike Missions themselves to make grouping easier, and to improve the rewards. We hope this will help introduce more people to 10-person content, which will in turn increase the number of people interested in Raids.

Regardless of if that succeeds or not, we understand the importance of balancing our efforts between accessible content with broad appeal, and content that appeals to the more hard core audience, and recognize that we need to do a better job of supporting the latter.”

 

Source: Official Forums

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ArenaNet Confirms They Are Working on an Unannounced Console Game

ArenaNet has confirmed that they are working on an unannounced console game in a job advertisement. This is a common way to find out studios are developing games very early in the process while they’re hiring new staff. Unfortunately, it also means that there is very little information known about the game.

What we do know about the game so far is that it will be a fantasy action console game in the third person. We also know it is being built using Unreal 4.

There had previously been some question about why ArenaNet was hiring an Unreal Engineer because GW2 doesn’t use Unreal. Now, thanks to an ad looking for an Art Director we have an answer to that question.

We also know that Mike O’Brien had previously been working on a game before he departed the studio. It was said at the time that the game in the state he was leaving it could have become Guild Wars 3. Will this be Guild Wars 3? It is certainly something that can’t be ruled out at the moment. But the fact that it’s a console game makes that seem less likely. It’s also possible that this is another game entirely that is set in the Guild Wars universe or it might be something else entirely. The possibilities are endless.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of news from ArenaNet in recent years. They were also hiring mobile developers for a while but nothing seems to have come out of that and it is possible that whatever it was has been canceled before it ever even got announced.

For now at least, we know that some of ArenaNet is in fact working on a title that isn’t Guild Wars 2. What it is and when we’ll find out more is anyone’s guess.

 

Source: ArenaNet Careers via Reddit

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Guild Wars 2 Whisper in the Dark Press Preview

Whisper in the Dark leads us to Bjora Marches in the Far Shiverpeaks. As you might expect this is a very cold zone and visibility there is low to say the least. You might expect that because it is further north than the Bitterfrost Frontier that it is as bitterly cold and as dangerous as that zone. But it isn’t. So far we’ve not seen any signs of the Bitter Cold environmental hazard that plagued the Bitterfrost Frontier. But it is possible that this could change in the future as Bjora Marches will be with us in future episodes of the Icebrood Saga and ArenaNet has said that the zone will evolve and expand with each update. The zone as it stands now is quite significantly smaller than previous Living World zones. This is to be expected, though I was taken by surprise by just how small it is.

I was fortunate enough to play on a map that was nearly completely empty except for a few people here and there. This allowed the sinister atmosphere that you have seen in the trailer to shine through. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this atmosphere will last when you’ve got everyone and their Sylvan Hound running around. It was a problem that The Secret World faced many years ago, how do you keep the spooky atmosphere you’re trying to portray when there are 50 to 100 people running around spamming sword attacks? Funcom ended up solving that issue by reducing the zone cap to just 10 people and it worked amazingly well for their game, though some would argue that it has made the game feel abandoned and soulless. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that in Guild Wars 2 however. That sinister area also only accounts for a small portion of the zone.

 

New Masteries

One thing that you see throughout Bjora Marches is the new masteries in action. There are four of them in total, Raven Attunement, and the three new essence manipulations. Raven Attunement I don’t want to talk about too much because all of my experience using it was tied in with the story. You will unlock it quite quickly though and you have to unlock it to gain access to essence manipulation.

You will have seen the essence manipulations system in action in the trailer. Enemies who glow green, red, or blue. Many of the enemies in the zone have this glow, though not all of them. You also aren’t at a disadvantage if you don’t have the system unlocked while you’re out in the zone. The impression is that these will be vital for the Strike Missions. This may also mean that they become more important as the story continues. For now, though, they’re powerful attacks that only work on the appropriately colored enemies. This means that essence manipulation is completely useless outside of Bjora Marches and I actually think that’s a good thing. My husband and I can already duo many of the champions in Tyria on an Elementalist and Engineer who are specced for fun, not for being the best. I would hate to see content in the old world trivialized by this new system. Though yes, I do agree with many that spending a bunch of time unlocking masteries that don’t work anywhere but one zone is annoying. This isn’t the first time we’ve done that though and it is unlikely to be the last.

As it stands now I worry that the enemies in Bjora Marches will be trivialized by this new system. When everyone has unlocked the various essence mastery points will people end up having to wait around for a champion to spawn again if they want to fight it because if they aren’t there at the exact moment the fight starts then the enemy is dead? Sure, I can see it coming in handy later in 2020 when we’ve moved beyond Bjora Marches to a new zone and getting enough people to fight a champion is difficult at best. Right now though, I’m not so sure about the system. It feels a bit like the Incarnate system from City of Heroes, for anyone who is familiar with that.

 

No More Legendary Weapons

The second generation of legendary weapons ended with the release of Exordium, a gorgeous greatsword that is singlehandedly responsible for me coming back to the game in a personal capacity after taking a year-long hiatus. As I recall, though I can’t find when and where it was said, ArenaNet has said that there won’t be any more legendary weapons after gen 2. This was a statement made several years ago however and things do change. After all, there was one point in time when ArenaNet said they weren’t working on an expansion and that Guild Wars 2 would never have an expansion, now we’ve had 2. So it is possible that a new legendary weapon could be released in the future. But it isn’t going to be in Whisper in the Dark and there has been no mention of a new weapon coming by ArenaNet so I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Still, the team had a lot of really fun uses of technology in the gen 2 legendaries, even if some of the weapons themselves weren’t all that well received. I personally don’t have any use for a weapon that gives you a giant demon hand, but it would be interesting to see other ways that technology could be applied. I would also gleefully grind for the rest of my days to have a complete set of weapons that work and look like Exordium. Anyway, the whole point is that this is the first proper update after all of the legendary weapons have been released and I’m a bit sad that there isn’t one. A weapon, possibly made of the Boneskinner’s bones would be so, so epic. Who knows, we may get this in the Black Lion store. But there’s something really satisfying about creating the weapon yourself.

Whisper in the Dark is playable right now as you’re reading this. As always, make sure you have map chat turned off and you ignore your guildmates until you’ve finished the story. Social Media, including Youtube and Reddit will be abuzz with spoilers. Have fun and don’t let the Boneskinner get you.

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Guild Wars 3 May Be in Development

Yesterday news that Mike O’Brien, President of ArenaNet would be leaving the company after being with them for 19 years. He’s joining some former ArenaNet employees who have created a new studio and will focus on making smaller games. An unnamed source told Kotaku about the departure last week before it was announced and said that he had been working on a new Guild Wars project, potentially Guild Wars 3.

It turns out if this source is correct that O’Brien will be one of 8 developers leaving Arenanet, all of them together were the early development team for this new Guild Wars game. Another source told Kotaku that while Guild Wars 3 had not been greenlit officially the work O’Brien’s team had done could have developed into a sequel.

The work that the team had done will be staying with ArenaNet so there is the potential for it to be used for Guild Wars 3 or another game in the future. So far there hasn’t been any sign of these other departures that are supposedly coming, but, it is possible that these have gone unnoticed and unannounced or it might be that O’Brien’s departure was just the first and that more are coming.

Right now we will just have to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks. Will these other departures, if they happen, join O’Brien at the new studio he’s joining? Again, we will have to wait and see.

Guild Wars 2 is seven years old now so the idea of a sequel to the game isn’t completely beyond the realm of possibilities. Hopefully, the project gets picked up by someone else in ArenaNet and development continues on, whatever game it turns out to be.

 

Source: Kotaku

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Guild Wars 2 War Eternal Press Preview

Today is the release of the final episode of Guild Wars 2 living story season 4, titled War Eternal. While we have had the opportunity to play through a good portion of the story we won’t be talking about that at all in this article. It is one of those stories that is best left for you to play yourself and you should do it as soon as you can because people will be talking about it in game and on social media.

I will be completely honest with you now, I spent 90% of my time in the preview playing with the Skyscale. Yes, I was exploring the new zone which has a lot of great verticality to it and a lot of little nooks and crannies but all the exploring I did was in the context of the Skyscale.

At first working out how to use the Skyscale was a bit of a challenge. There’s not one, but two bars for you to keep an eye on and being able to find a flat surface to recharge on isn’t always easy. Once you have found one they aren’t always easy to land on. Think of when you were first starting out on griffon and you wanted to land on a tiny branch. It takes skill and practice. Attaching yourself to a wall and jumping up it is also something that takes a bit of skill. Even after a couple of hours in the preview I wasn’t totally comfortable yet with walls. Where Skyscale totally sold me though was hovering. You’re basically on a tiny one person living helicopter. Skyscales can stay hovering in place basically forever, assuming nothing gets aggroed and attacks. I can already picture an army of Skyscales floating in the sky waiting for the Shadow Behemoth or Claw of Jormag. It sets an epic picture in your mind.

The attack, which I will admit I didn’t write down the name of is something that will be familiar to anyone who has played against any of the smaller fire breathing dragons in Guild Wars 2. It’s the good ol’ fly in a circle breathing down fire. Why though you decide to jump off while that’s happening…that’s a different matter altogether. Yes, for the game mechanic as ArenaNet has made it you have your attack and you dismount, it makes sense. But thinking about it in terms of reality. Why the hell would you jump off your dragon while he’s flying around burning things? Clearly, the safest place to be is on his back.

One thing that I will admit underwhelmed me a bit in the preview was the new Legendary Greatsword Exordium. It is very shiny and to me immediately screams Mesmer. One of the problems I have with it is how similar it is in style to another weapon skin that already exists in the game, the Immortal Greatsword. Yes, it absolutely is bigger and flashier…but I don’t think it’s worth all the effort and money that a legendary weapon costs. It also doesn’t feel like it That is, of course, just my own personal opinion and you might have a totally different one. I think another part of what made it so underwhelming for me was my total inability to get a good screenshot of it. For that reason the images of Exordium in this article are those that were provided by ArenaNet.

Finally, I do want to talk a little bit about the new zone, which I’m not actually going to name because this article is going out moments after the episode releases and people won’t have had time to discover it yet. As I mentioned previously the zone has a lot of verticality to it and is a lot of fun to go around with your new Skyscale. But, if you don’t have Skyscale unlocked that’s ok. ArenaNet has done a fantastic job of making the zone accessible. All over the place you’ll see updrafts, bouncing mushrooms, Jackal Portals (or as I call them, puppy portals) and Oakheart’s Essence. They’ve made it very easy to get around the zone no matter where you are in your Guild Wars 2 playing experience. The zone also has a lot of different biomes and as a result a wide variety of enemies to take on. Anyone who takes their time going through the zone will be rewarded with little things that are incredibly easy to miss as you’re quickly passing through. ArenaNet also does a fantastic job of having characters from the story out in the open world once again where you can see them deeply involved in their projects, which once again I won’t say what they are, because…spoilers.

That’s pretty much all I have to say about War Eternal that doesn’t stray into spoiler territory. The episode is available to play right now so if you aren’t already patching…what are you even doing?!

 

But I want to finish this article by saying a big thank you to GuildMag which, after an incredible 9 years as part of the Guild Wars community is sadly saying goodbye today. Through the years many different people have worked on the magazine and website. The Guild Wars community won’t be the same without GuildMag. The good news is that while GuildMag is ending, many of the people on the team currently will be continuing under a new name on a new site. The details of that haven’t been announced yet but it seems that there will be some sort of announcement after the end of Season 4. We’ll be keeping a close eye on social media to get all those details as soon as they’re available. Thank you again GuildMag, we’ll miss you.

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10 Absolutely Shocking or Surprising MMO Events

The video game industry isn’t all about making games; that would be so downright boring. That is why now and then we get a shocking scandal, surprise announcement or surreal occurrence. Here are 10 controversial or surprising happenings that spread like wildfire and in some way changed the industry.

Save the Whales – Lockbox Legislation Around the World

Video Game Industry Scandals Star Wars Battlefront 2 lockboxes

Do you like gambling? Great! So why aren’t you inside a casino? Oh, that’s right, most games nowadays come with some sort of gambling feature called lockboxes. The premise is simple and ingenious: you are promised amazing in-game rewards that will be all the rage. So, what should you do? Purchase more and more of these boxes to increase the odds of getting that rare piece of gear or costume. Go on, put that credit card to use, games don’t make themselves, you know?

That was sarcasm, in case you didn’t notice. Always be responsible with your spending.

The shady thing with lockboxes is that the odds of really getting something worthwhile are incredibly slim and shrouded in secrecy, not to mention that they have this tempting allure that many players aren’t able to resist. It does sound a lot like gambling, right? That is how you end up spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on randomized pieces of loot.

Oddly enough, it was China that first started looking into this matter and demanded that developers publicly revealed the odds of earning an in-game item. Crossfire was one of the first games to come to light and the ludicrous 3% proves that lockboxes are a wonderful deal… for publishers.

Other regions such as Belgium and The Netherlands started investigating lockboxes, with some games such as Overwatch stopping the sale of lockboxes in affected regions. Electronic Arts was involved in this controversy as well, with games such as Star Wars Battlefront 2 and FIFA 18 being mentioned as examples. Of course, other countries aren’t entirely sure about this subject. France and Ireland, for example, aren’t the biggest fans of lockboxes but see this practice as a legally grey area.

Lockboxes are a touchy subject and will surely continue to be discussed during the following years. My advice to you is: if you really like a game and want to support the development team by spending some money, which you should totally do, look at the item shop and leave lockboxes alone.

 

Riot Games Bro Culture, Testicle Flicking and Gender-Based Discrimination

Video Game Industry Scandals League of Legends Riot Games

Riot Games achieved intergalactic fame riding on the success of League of Legends, but by late 2018 it was talked about due to the worst possible reasons: an alleged culture of sexism, a “giant fraternity,” and a “bro culture” where women were not welcome. It was a place where women were discriminated against, as their career progression was stifled as positions went to less-qualified men.

Kotaku created an amazing article with several interviews that dropped like a bomb in the already fragile and scandal-ridden video game industry.

Naturally, this piece spread like wildfire and had severe repercussions, with Riot Games having to undertake some serious damage control. Riot’s COO Scott Gelb was in the spotlight by facing accusations from multiple employees about repeatedly flicking testicles, farting on employees or humping them for comedic effect. Sounds like a lot of fun when you are on the receiving end, right?

To cut a long story short, several former Riot Games employees started sharing their experiences after reading the articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and the least that can be said is that it is some heavy reading. Riot Games eventually apologized, but the damage was done, and the past can’t be erased. How it has affected the studio – and League of Legends – remains a bit of a mystery, but I doubt that it did them any favors. And it’s so easy to apologize after your humiliating studio culture is revealed to the world…

 

A Bad Case of Battle Royale – PUBG Corp Sues Left and Right

Video Game Industry Scandals PUBG

Here’s a lawsuit for you! And you! Everyone gets a lawsuit!

There is no denying that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the game that kickstarted the Battle Royale craze. It remains as one of the most played games in its genre, but it is now trailing behind Epic Games’ Fortnite, and Respawn’s Apex Legends is also proving to be a worthy challenger.

However, if there is one thing that developer PUBG Corporation can’t claim is having invented the Battle Royale genre or its mechanics. That is why suing Epic Games sounded more like a desperate attempt to put a stop to the rising fame of Fortnite Battle Royale than an authentic, credible case. It felt more like a kid throwing a tantrum because someone stole his candy. His delicious, everlasting candy.

But before the Epic Games lawsuit, there was a previous one targeting NetEase. PUBG Corporation wasn’t pleased with Knives Out and Rules of Survival, going to the extent of detailing several game mechanics over 100 pages. Claiming copyright infringement for things such as a pre-game lobby, the air jump, character attributes and much more seems a bit of a stretch. Sure, I’ll admit that the frying pan armor may be somewhat original, but still…

PUBG is a huge success and shady copycats were bound to happen, but it will be a depressing day when a studio is granted the copyright for trite game mechanics or a completely unremarkable game idea. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that the day will never come.

 

Trust Us, This Time It’s Good – Bless Online Western Release Mess

Video Game Industry Scandals Bless Online

Bless Online is the perfect lesson in exaggerated hype and subsequent disappointment. May its legacy serve as a warning for future generations about the dangers of high expectations.

For the lucky few who aren’t aware of the whole situation, Bless Online is a Korean fantasy MMORPG that was several years in the making and had a large budget as well. A few lackluster betas led to a Rebuild project that ended up not changing that much, and the attrition between original western publisher Aeria Games and developer Neowiz was a clear sign that Bless Online wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

Ultimately, Neowiz decided to self-publish Bless Online in the west through Steam, but with a major twist – it was going to be buy-to-play! An unfinished, buggy mess of a free-to-play Korean game that the western crowd was now expected to pay for. Oddly enough, many players cheered this decision because things are always better when you pay, right? With the reality shock and negative feedback stemming from the Early Access phase – because Bless Online wasn’t in development for long enough, you know –, there was a 180º turn and Bless Online’s official launch marked a switch to the original free-to-play business model. Too little, too late?

Apparently, yes. As the original Korean servers shut down, along with the failure of the Russian and Japanese versions. The Steam release of Bless Online is now the sole focus of Neowiz. Unsurprisingly, it is bleeding players and its future is uncertain, to say the least.

But I saved the best for last! Out of the blue, Neowiz and Bandai Namco announced Bless Unleashed, further stirring up the hornet’s nest, a.k.a. Bless Online PC players claiming that resources were being shifted to this upcoming game. This Xbox One exclusive is developed in Unreal Engine 4, is free-to-play and is scheduled for a 2019 launch. How does that old saying goes? Fool me once, shame on you…?

 

Who’s the Parent – Daybreak / Columbus Nova Chaos

Video Game Industry Scandals Daybreak PlanetSide Arena

Daybreak Game Company was in the spotlight for an important part of 2018, and no, it wasn’t due to the massive layoffs (around 70 people). It was because of all the confusion surrounding Daybreak’s alleged parent company, Columbus Nova.

The makers of Z1 Battle Royale, DC Universe Online and PlanetSide Arena, among others, were involved in a tangled web of miscommunication, doubt and unexpected twists. Daybreak has officially denied any affiliation with Columbus Nova, claiming that Jason Epstein, former member of Columbus Nova, is the primary owner of the studio. This conflicts with a 2015 privacy policy which described Columbus Nova as the parent company.

This almost feels like a detective movie, involving a Russian oligarch, billions worth of frozen assets and nail-biting suspense. All that is lacks is a romantic subplot, but let’s not make it more complicated than it already is.

 

Elves on Spaceships – Pearl Abyss Purchases CCP Games

Video Game Industry Scandals Black Desert Online

What does it take for one Korean studio to acquire a hugely reputed developer with a massive hit that has been live for more than 15 years? The answer has three words: Black Desert Online.

Pearl Abyss delivered a stunning MMORPG that is almost unrivaled when it comes to graphics and action combat. It is also incredibly deep and complex – so much so that it’s awfully grindy and requires a hefty dose of patience, and usually money, to become a powerful player. There are reports of players having spent over $5,000 USD on Black Desert Online, and I’m betting that is the tip of the iceberg.

With such revenue numbers, it’s clear that Pearl Abyss had a bit of pocket money. They decided to use it on the acquisition of CCP Games, makers of the intergalactic epic EVE Online. Apart from the upcoming release of EVE Online in Korea, we don’t know what other plans Pearl Abyss has for the Icelandic studio. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t involve spaceships landing in Black Desert Online.

 

A Handful of Nothing – Wargaming Seattle Closes Without a Single Release

Video Game Industry Scandals World of Tanks

Gas Powered Games is a name that brings back some pleasant memories. It takes me to a time when I enjoyed playing the Diablo-like Dungeon Siege, or the complex real-time strategy series Supreme Commander. However, in 2013 the studio was suffering from severe financial issues and ended up being purchased by World of Tanks publisher Wargaming.

Thus, Wargaming Seattle was born, along with hopes of a new “big free-to-play MMO” that never saw the light of day. Five years later, not a single piece of info or a measly screenshot was released to the public, and Wargaming decided to cut its losses. The studio was closed, affecting a 150-strong team and leaving the gaming community oblivious to what kind of project was in development.

However, this isn’t stopping Wargaming’s ambitions. The Belarusian company acquired Edge Case Games in November 2018 and has several partnerships with various developers, one of the latest being Ukrainian studio Frag Lab, which is working on a next-gen free-to-play MMO first-person shooter.

 

Not So Heroic – Marvel Heroes Downfall

Video Game Industry Scandals Marvel Heroes Gazillion

There was once a time when Marvel Heroes merged the best of two worlds: Diablo-like gameplay and super heroes. Sure, it didn’t have the greatest start, but just as it happened with other online games – League of Legends is the perfect example –, it eventually got better as development progressed, gameplay was finetuned and new heroes joined the fray.

After a few years of live service, some worrying news came to light, and not all of them involving the game. A sexual harassment scandal concerning Gazillion’s CEO Dave Dohrmann is a major problem, and Disney’s (owner of Marvel) intention to cut ties with Gazillion was a death sentence. It all ended with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2018, meaning that the studio wasn’t paying its creditors and was forced into bankruptcy by the same entities.

Gazillion workers ended up without any kind of PTO or severance, making the entire situation even more dramatic.

 

Worlds Divided – Gamigo Buys Trion Worlds

Video Game Industry Scandals Trove

Trion Worlds was once one of the most prolific free-to-play games publishers and developers. Trove, Rift, Defiance and Atlas Reactor are all their own doing, and you certainly have heard about ArcheAge as well.

While some of these games were moderate successes, they weren’t enough to keep the company afloat. In October 2018, German publisher Gamigo acquired Trion, along with the full rights to the aforementioned games. They even managed to get a few Gazillion assets (makers of Marvel Heroes) in the deal as well.

Gamigo was undoubtedly one of the top players in the free-to-play market when the genre was on the rise. Recently, however, its catalog is more discreet, with the decent shooter Ironsight being one of the latest releases.

 

Guild Lost – ArenaNet Layoffs and a Grim Future

Video Game Industry Scandals ArenaNet Guild Wars 2

For some reason, ArenaNet felt to me like one of those studios that couldn’t do any wrong. Sure, it’s not like they have done much besides Guild Wars and its sequel, but both MMORPGs were critically and commercially acclaimed, thus my appreciation and admiration for their spotless track record.

Nonetheless, there are very few studios that manage to keep going for years without the occasional new release. Founded in 2000, ArenaNet was allegedly working on two new projects, but delayed development and a shift of staff from Guild Wars 2 to these unannounced games ended up being an unsuccessful move.

Reports mention over 100 layoffs at ArenaNet following a restructuring decision by the studio’s owner NCSoft. The future of ArenaNet is now uncertain, and if there aren’t any new games in an advanced stage of development, there is only so much that new Guild Wars 2 expansions can do. I fear that we will end up seeing the talented staff being engulfed and separated by NCSoft in a not-so-distant future.

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ArenaNet Releases Guild Wars 2 Rytlock Short Story

Following the events that took place in the most recent living story update All or Nothing, the Guild Wars 2 team have created a series of short stories that focus on important characters in the story of Guild Wars 2. Only one has been released so far based on Rytlock Brimstone. A Rytlock short story may not seem like the first choice to have in the moments after the heartbreaking tale that was All or Nothing. But, it is a touching story for fans for the loveable Charr.

Much to the writer of this article’s disappointment Logan doesn’t declare his love for Rytlock. But, there is always next time. Without giving any spoilers though, it is a touching story that looks back at Rytlock’s past as well as his emotional state.

Obviously, if you’ve not played through All or Nothing yet this is a story that should be avoided until you’ve finished it. They jump straight into the spoilers so don’t even click on the link to the story which you’ll find at the end of this article.

The story itself was created by the ArenaNet development team using an open-source program called Twine. It was also illustrated by ArenaNet Creative Partners. Creative Partner Jerome Jacinto worked on the Rytlock story. The other two stories which have yet to be released will be based on Caithe and and Zafirah. We don’t know yet when these other stories will be released but we’re looking forward to reading them when they eventually are. Hopefully there will be more of them in the future because this one just raised a whole lot of questions that the world needs answers to. But even if we don’t get answers to those questions it’s still fun to get a deeper dive into the minds of the NPCs we’ve been fighting next to since 2012.

 

If you’d like to read the Rytlock short story for yourself you can do so by going to this Guild Wars 2 link.

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Guild Wars 2 All or Nothing Preview

As is customary we got an early look at Guild Wars 2 update All or Nothing which comes out on January 8th. The following article won’t contain any spoilers for the story so if you haven’t had the chance to play yet, have no fear, you won’t see anything you don’t already know from the trailer.

Speaking of the trailer, for many of us the most exciting part of it was seeing Logan Thackeray in his shiny new Pact armor. It has a few features that will remind you of his old armor from before Heart of Thorns. As someone who is unashamed to admit she’s a Logan Thackeray fangirl I have to admit, it’s good to see him again. He can be found in the open world in Thunderhead Peaks performing several different tasks.

Thunderhead Peaks

We’re finally getting a break from all the running around desert and tropical landscapes and heading somewhere a little more Norn friendly, the Thunderhead Peaks! Guild Wars 1 players will be familiar with the area which is of course named after Thunderhead Keep. Here you will find old Deldrimor Dwarven ruins, snow, allies from the Pact and other groups you’ve gathered along the way, and of course Branded creatures. Scattered throughout various places are very thin slots in the walls. These are far too big for a mount to get in while also being up too high or too far away from a platform for you to just jump to. Getting inside these areas requires the help of your mount along with the new Mastery skill Bond of Faith.

Bond of Faith

With Bond of Faith, you leap off your mount’s back and fly forwards through the air. At first glance, it seems like this Mastery skill is only useful in the Thunderhead Peaks with the special areas that contain chests full of loot. But, I can see players really getting into using it because it is genuinely fun to use. During our early look at the update, the ArenaNet developers mentioned that this had been a skill they had wanted to introduce for some time now but it took until now to find a place and a time to make it happen. Bond of Faith isn’t for a player with lag issues, however. There were a number of times during testing that I ended up missing my target. While some of this is certainly because I was only just then starting to learn how to use it the skill also seemed to cause lag once the power was activated. With a little bit of practice though you’ll be flying off your friend with ease.

Pharus

All or Nothing also sees the release of Pharus, the new legendary longbow. Going along with the theme of the episode the focus of Pharus is light. The first time you use the bow after it has been drawn you get a bright, blinding light around you, as seen in the photo below. The weapon itself is rather minimalistic. It has a few parts that move but it is generally stationary and sleek looking. I quite like the style, however, I think I would have preferred to have it as part of a Black Lion set rather than as a legendary. But, given that Kudzu is so fancy, it makes sense that Pharus is a little bit more low key. I can see this weapon becoming a favorite of Guardians who are using Dragonhunter. It fits their theme very well.

Everything Else

As part of this update, we have a new unlockable weapon set. Like the Stellar weapons that came out in Daybreak, the Dragonsblood weapon set has more than one level. It also has a connection to what is going on in the world which at least for me, makes it an important weapon set to get for all of my characters. Were I still as heavily invested in the game as I once was I could see myself grinding out weapons to make sure each of my 28 characters has one. But, these days I’ve slowed down a bit so a might only get 3 or 4.

Sadly we didn’t get the chance to take a look at the new tropical-themed Siren’s Reef fractal. But new fractals are always fun to run through as well as being very rewarding.

What happens in the story? Well, we only got a short glimpse of it during the press preview and I won’t be talking about that at all. What we did see lacked context and I have no idea how it ends. Which is just the way I want to be going into this.

All or Nothing launches on January 8th. If you haven’t already done so be sure to log in to get A Star to Guide Us before the launch of All or Nothing for free.

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The Tyrian Chronicle: Mini Springer Ramona, A Touching Tribute

From time to time MMO developers will add little nods to real life into their games. In Guild Wars 2 you can see this with NPCs like Dulfy and the barefoot Queen Jennah, amongst others, and now we can add Mini Springer Ramona to that list. A loving tribute to a gorgeous bunny named Ramona.

Mini Springer Ramona first appeared in the API and in the miniatures panel in the August 28th’s update. Her addition went by without any comment from ArenaNet and aside from the description in the miniatures panel which read “This miniature can only be crafted in the Mystic Forge” there were no hints on how to make her.

Almost an entire month went by before the topic came up on the forums. At that time player, Malediktus noted that the mini should be in the game because two GW2efficiency users have it unlocked, but they also pointed out that with there being 10 Mini Springer variants available, plus all the other possible combinations of items, finding exactly what it took to unlock Ramona would be difficult and potentially quite expensive. For the next few days there was a bit of discussion and speculation, but at that time no one could even work out who Ramona was or why she might be in the game, let alone how to unlock her.

On October 2nd the plot thickened as the wiki entry for Ramona noted that she had been removed from the Miniatures Panel. The Awakened Asura mini was removed at the same time, leading some to believe that Ramona was never meant to actually be released. It was at that point the trail went cold and the forum users who were so curious went silent.

Mini Springer Ramona

Then on October 10th, there was a breakthrough and the origin of Ramona the Mini Springer was finally revealed. It was found in a blog post on Tumblr made by a GW2 fan who just happened to run into an ArenaNet developer with Ramona. The developer, later revealed to be Chelsea Mills, explained that the Springer Mini Ramona was a tribute to her sister’s bunny named Ramona who had recently passed away. Chelsea was the artist who had painstakingly worked to recreate Ramona in Guild Wars 2, paying special attention to the fur to get Ramona’s pattern just right. The two people in the game who owned the mini were, in fact, Chelsea and her sister.

Ramona is such a special tribute to a special bun you would understand if they had made Ramona unobtainable by players, but Chelsea and her sister wanted Ramona to be within reach of any player who wanted her, and they also wanted the players to find her recipe on their own. As soon as the blog post was linked on the forums the hunt was on once again.

By the next day, progress was already being made on unlocking Ramona. Malediktus had discovered three of the four items used but with thousands of possible options, help was needed. It was decided that it was most likely a very cheap item since the three that they had discovered already were themselves quite cheap. And then, on October 12th Haleydawn became the third owner of the Mini Ramona but, she wouldn’t give away what the fourth item needed was. Later that day though the complete recipe was added to the wiki and the mystery was solved. Now anyone could get Ramona, even me.

Then Nanya, the original owner of Ramona chimed in on the forums.

“Hello everyone, I thought I would chime in here now that the recipe has been discovered and is out in the wild.

Ramona was my rabbit. She was my best friend and I had her for a wonderful 10 and a half years. She would have been 11 years old in 2 days. She was an enormous 12 lb bun (I think a New Zealand/Flemish mix) and was the absolute sweetest, most goofy girl ever with the best personality. A total snugglebug. I’ve had lots of pets in my life and it’s never easy losing them, but she has been the most difficult to say goodbye to. I miss her dearly. Being able to have her with me on my adventures has really helped me cope with the loss.

The heart shaped cookie in the recipe is a nod toward one of her favorite treats. She went absolutely bonkers for them; she couldn’t get enough of them or oats.

Here are some pictures of her: https://imgur.com/a/YEFII1x

I’m so glad you guys have been so excited and determined to figure out how to get her in game, and I’m amazed how quickly the recipe was figured out! I hope that you too enjoy having my sweet girl as a companion on your quests.”

 

Chelsea also left a comment on the forums thanking the players. “Thank you so much to all of you who are being so respectful and loving toward Ramona, and to me and my sister. I’m super glad I had the opportunity to create a tribute to such a great bun and it warms my heart that other people will continue to love her as a pet in game.”

And that is the story of how a bunny who loved by one particular family came to be loved by an entire community of players around the world. As of writing this, there are 1,678 people who use GW2Efficiency who have unlocked Ramona, which is less than 1% of the playerbase who also use the site. Making her the rarest mini I have. On my account, Ramona is going to live with Inga Östberg, my Norn Ranger who has always had a soft spot for the spirit of Hare and followers of Bunny. And though Inga may make her home in the Wayfarer Foothills she will always be happy to take Ramona to Queensdale, which without a doubt is the best place for a grass loving bunny to roam.

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Guild Wars 2: A Star to Guide Us Preview

Before we dive into the article I’d like to get the usual spoiler warning out of the way. In the following article, there will NOT be any story spoilers. Just based on the little snippet of story that I saw in the press preview I know that I wouldn’t want the story spoiled, so I’m not going to do that to you, my reader. Please keep this in mind when you’re on social media as well and don’t post spoilers. So you might be wondering what will this article be about? Well, I’ve decided to focus on the little things that make a big difference. There’s the second outing of new technology, a little nostalgia, and something fans have been asking for. So let’s dive in.

 

Legendary Technology

It amazes me that even after 6 years of Guild Wars 2 being live, and 13 years of the original Guild Wars new technology, that new ways to use the technology are still being found. I mention Guild Wars because GW2 uses a heavily modified version of the Guild Wars engine. New technology was used to create The Binding of Ipos, the Legendary focus which featured a floating book along with a giant demonic hand. When that was created ArenaNet started considering other ways to use the technology. Specifically, they wanted to create some sort of pet that would go along with you. This is how Xiuquatl came to be.

Xiuquatl features a very cute little flying serpent who will accompany you in battle. Out of combat, the serpent goes away so you aren’t stuck with a little beast following you around everywhere. It was honestly so distracting that I forgot to look at what the footfall is like. Sadly, the scepter isn’t a weapon that Rangers can use at the moment but hopefully, this will change in the future as this scepter would be perfect for them.

 

Hitting Guild Wars Fans Right in the Nostalgia

A Star to Guide Us gives players who also played the original Guild Wars game a nice shot of nostalgia with the introduction of Sun’s Refuge, formerly known as the Sunspear Sanctuary. Sun’s Refuge is an underground, instanced zone that offers the opportunity to expand through the exploration of lore and completing tasks given by those inside. There are also things to do inside Sun’s Refuge including a small battle arena with an NPC who will kick your ass. For roleplayers, Sun’s Refuge offers somewhere safe to roleplay that still has a sense of urgency in the air. Sure, you can rest there for a little while, but ultimately you need to get back into the fight. It also presents a fantastic opportunity for those who are in small guilds that struggle to complete a Guild Hall, like my two-person guild with my husband. No, it doesn’t have any of the features that a Guild Hall has, but it does offer somewhere to be that you can call your own and you can bring friends. Unlocking it is quite easy, all you have to do is play the story as you will be anyway.

 

Player Requested, ArenaNet Delivered

One thing that players have often asked about is seeing important NPCs out in the world. You never see Dragon’s Watch outside of story instances but finally, that has changed. They aren’t quite out in the open world like we had hoped for but it is a step in that direction as once you’ve unlocked Sun’s Refuge, Dragon’s Watch can be found inside, giving us the opportunity for the first time, to interact with these characters outside of the world-shattering story taking place. They all have a variety of things that they’re doing, but it is nice to see them doing more than getting stuck into battle. I only hope that we see more of this in the future.

Another highly requested feature that has been introduced is the new upgradable Elegy Armor. What makes this armor so special isn’t that it glows, plenty of armor does that, but you can change the color of the glow. See the image below with a side by side visualization taken just moments apart.

The world is about to get a whole lot more colorful.

by the amazing Stjepan Sejic who is a GW2 fan.

 

Blowing in the Wind

Jahai Bluffs has a lot of things going on, but there is one feature that stands out more than the others: a massive purple tornado. This tornado travels the map, picking up adventurers and tossing them into the air with ease. Not only is it a great way to get up to some of the higher levels of the map, but it also gives you access to a sky full of volatile magic. The tornado is best used by griffon owners but those who have a glider will also benefit from it greatly. It’s also just a lot of fun to play in and made a great ending to our preview of A Star to Guide Us.

 

A Star to Guide Us is available to play right now so log in and get started! There’s so much more in this living story update that I haven’t mentioned yet, including a raid that ventures into the mystic toilet. Here you’ll finally get to meet Zommoros, the djinn who is the source of all your mystic forge woes and the great hoarder of legendary weapons. There’s also a very handy new mastery which every mount owner will want to get as soon as possible. Six years after launch, Guild Wars 2 is still finding new and interesting ways to keep bringing players back for more.

Please remember to keep social media spoiler-free for a little while so players have some time to get through the content. If you know you won’t be able to log in and play right away, I highly recommend you avoid social media until you’ve played. You won’t regret it.

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