Saturday, December 31, 2016

Scape Santa!

I've been away on holidays lately, and I haven't been on GW2 since I left. I didn't have much to do last night, so I logged on to Runescape (the old school version, of course) and decided to its Christmas quest.
I don't play this game very often. The standard Runescape is ruined beyond repair, so I've never returned on my main character, which had 2500 hours of progress. My new character on Old School is still low level, but the great thing about Runescape is that you can enjoy the game no matter what your level is. 


It always feels great to quest on Runescape, and it's good to have fresh new content. No quest markers on the map, no automated journal telling you everything you have to do, in Runescape you're meant to read the dialogue and figure things out by yourself. Of course, the Christmas quest is very easy in comparison to the regular ones, but it's still a good appetizer.


This year's Christmas quest was about freeing overworked toy makers from the tyrannical troll Carol, who had forgotten the Christmas spirit and only cared about making profit.


During the quest, we make numerous attempts at reminding her of what Christmas is about, but to no avail, as all she cares about is "meeting targets", as in meeting the financial goals she's set for her company to accomplish. Sadly, it's kind of the same mentality a majority of the Runescape community seems to fall victim to, always referring to anything that isn't efficient grinding as an "xp waste".


Eventually, an Oracle gives us a vision of the workers walking deep into the tunnels for rest and getting themselves killed by ghost dragons. This is the pivotal point of the quest. 


At first, Carol doesn't believe the Oracle, thinking it was all a plan to fool her. To get around this, we disguise as the ghost of a dead worker and scare her off. However, she abandons the factory, leaving it without a leader.


Luckily, Diango, the holiday presents NPC from Draynor, volunteers as the new leader, saving Christmas for everyone. The rewards from this quest are Christmas crackers, which contain the iconic party hats, as well as the Santa hat and two new wearable items: a giant present and a sack of presents.

Doing this quest has made me reconsider playing Runescape. However, if I do get back to it, it never lasts too long. The game is old and quickly loses interest when I don't have anything special going on. I might just try to finish the freeplay quests on this character.

May Guthix be with you!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Solving the Login Error (42:1000:7006:1231)

Various players and I have been having this problem occasionally where we get disconnected from the game and can't log back in at all for an hour or so. When trying to log in from the launcher, it returns the error code 42:1000:7006:1231, and when attempting to access GW2's website, it returns an error code as well. Luckily, I've discovered two solutions for this, but they're not very convenient. In this blog post, I'll list the various solutions that have either worked for me or for other people.

Solutions that seem to have worked for others

I've sent a ticket to GW2 Support and we've tested various solutions, but didn't come to a conclusion on what was causing this problem. The first method, which seems to work for some people, is this:

1. Locate the file “GW2.exe” and right-click it, selecting “Create Shortcut.”
2. Rename this shortcut to “Guild Wars 2 Port Test.”
3. Right-click on this shortcut and select “Properties.”
4. Edit the “Target” line to include /clientport 80 at the end. Note: Please make sure /clientport 80 is outside of the quotes.
— Correctly Formatted Example: “C:\Games\Guild Wars 2\GW2.exe” /clientport 80
— Incorrectly Formatted Example: “C:\Games\Guild Wars 2\GW2.exe /clientport 80”
5. Once completed, click “Ok” to save your changes. If you get an error trying to save, your target line may not have the correct format. Please try Step 4 again.
6. Double click “Guild Wars 2 Port Test” and try connecting again.

When that didn't work for me, I tried other tweaks that seem to have worked for other people on the forums. These include:
  • Resetting the modem,
  • Entering "netsh winsock reset" on the cmd window and restarting the computer,
  • Changing the game to another language and then back to English
  • Disabling both the firewall and antivirus (didn't work and I wouldn't recommend it anyway),
  • Enabling ports 80, 443 and 6112 on my router,
  • Tried this entire guide,
  • Moving the Guild Wars 2 folder to another directory.

 

Solutions that certainly work for me

 None of the methods listed above have worked for me. But there are two things that work for sure: using a VPN, or connecting my computer directly to the modem. These two things completely solve the problem. However, VPN's aren't free, I merely used a trial version of Tunnel Bear for three days to test it out. As for connecting my computer to the modem via a cable, it sure works, but it's still inconvenient for me to have a cable all the way from the modem to my computer: there are two doors and a corridor in the way. The game ran for two or three days on wifi after that however, until it began to crash again and I had to use the cable trick once more.

The source of the problem?

I still can't figure out what's causing this all of a sudden. The game has ran fine since its release in 2012. This has only been happening roughly since the Wintersday update, it happens very randomly and only those two solutions above work for me. It's also happening exclusively on Guild Wars 2, every other game runs just fine.


If someone out there finds a convenient solution to this, so that the game can be played via wifi and without a VPN, I'd be very grateful to know!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas day and there would be no better day to post the sequel to my Wintersday post. In the previous blog post I talked about Tixx's Infinarium, Winter Wonderland and Snowball Mayhem, so today it's time to shine the spotlight on Bell Choir and Toypocalypse. These are two completely different minigames, one which I loved and another which strongly disappointed me.

Toypocalypse


Toypocalypse is a tower defense game that takes place in Tixx's Infinarium. It's about breaking the various props scattered around the area and building catapults, snowmen or ballistas with their drops, in ordrer to destroy the waves of rampaging toys that are attempting to kill the Dolyaks.
I love the concept of tower defense games, but this one is just far too easy. It requires no skill or strategy at all. Catapults are extremely overpowered and can be placed just about anywhere to win the game. You can just place them exactly where you found them everytime and you'll have no problem winning this minigame. It's literaly more difficult to lose the game than to win it, you'd have to agree with your team to only use ballistas in order for it to get interesting, and that's never going to happen. I really wanted this to be challenging because it could be really fun, but it failed to deliver on that.

Bell Choir


Bell Choir is probably the most difficult minigame in this Wintersday collection and it makes it one of the most exciting alongside Snowball Mayhem once you master it. It's very frustrating at first, as you get kicked out for making too many mistakes, which slows down your learning process, but once you get the hang of it it's quite fun. I suggest remapping your hotkeys and looking at the minigame from above, like in the screenshot, so as to make it more comfortable. It's a very rewarding minigame as well, both for karma and for Wintersday gifts.

By now I've unlocked all the non-infinite achievements, so I've pretty much done everything this Wintersday has to offer. To wrap up my impression of these events, I think they're a great way of making gold, but Toypocalypse in particular could really use being more challenging and entertaining.

As for actual Christmas, I got a 4000 gem gift card, which is the most gems I've ever had in this game. I will be talking about how I spent those gems in a future blog post, as it's really not an easy choice when you want to invest them properly. In the meantime, I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Journey into Maguuma Part I

Wintersday is a great event, but it doesn't help me with those mastery points I've been neglecting since the launch of Heart of Thorns. I have never properly taken on HoT content since its release, and yesterday it was time to change that. It was time to venture into these new maps, complete them, understand their events and unlock their rewards. 

In this blog post, I'll be talking about Verdant Brink, mastery points and the difficulty of these new maps.

 
Verdant Brink is the map where most of the Pact airships were destroyed by Mordremoth and where the surviving Pact soldiers are struggling to make a stand against the Mordrem. They're attempting to establish rally points and salvage supplies from the wrecked fleet. I don't really understand why they chose to rally at night, to me it would make more sense to rally during the day in order to then survive the night, but it's fun anyway.
The particularity about this map is its vertiginous height. It's roughly a 30 second fall from its highest peak to the very bottom. Navigating it is difficult, especially going upward, because you sometimes have to glide from platform to platform in order to get where you want.

Here's a video someone did about jumping off the peak of the map:

 


The events aren't easy at all in small groups. The screenshot above shows just how messy these boss fights can get. In this case, his massive AoE attack knocks you off the platform if you're not standing in front of the pillars, possibly killing you instantly if the lag prevents you from using your glider. Even if you survive that, you still can't see anything because of all these spell effects. 
Some of the Hero Points are outright impossible for a solo player, at least in my case. I have even died to regular monsters such as the Coztic hylek, the red frogs. They are extremely difficult to handle when they're in groups, because they dodge most of your attacks and do very high amounts of damage.


The difficulty has its advantages. It makes people come together and help each other. I've had some great moments and conversations with groups of people on this map. I tagged up to taxi people into my map and overtime we got ourselves a great Tier 4 night event going. I had no idea how to command on Verdant Brink, but as people started following me around I had no choice but to learn on the spot, and it was great. Naturally, at first I was part of those receiving help from others, but by the end I was also helping out newcomers as well.

Caps lock conversations!
The only thing I would find concerning about this difficulty is if the map's activity dies out and players are left to either solo the events or wait long hours until other people arrive, but so far that doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon.


The best part however was at the very peak of this vertiginous map. There's an actual dragon up there, like the ones you find in Skyrim, and you fight it partly by gliding around and bombing it with explosive wyvern eggs. The gameplay of this fight is very well thought out as it makes use of the mechanics of gliding and updrafts. It's really fun and fighting dragons is just cool in general.

Watercolor effects
And this is Last Leap, the final point of interest I had to visit to complete the map. It was difficult to reach, but worth it once I was there. It's a very peaceful place, devoid of any enemies, a great place to end this troublesome journey across Verdant Brink. I took my time up there, taking screenshots which I edited a little on Photoshop (one of which is the introduction screenshot in this blog post).

The Sunset
Coming up next is Auric Basin, which so far seems even more difficult than this one...

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Merry Wintersday!

It's been a busy week for me, but holidays are finally here and it's Christmas time. In Tyria it's called Wintersday, and it's being held in Divinity's Reach for the third consecutive year. It's the most suitable place for the event, due to its size and general theme. The events are fun and there's plenty of gold to be made. I haven't done every activity yet, but in this blog post I'll be talking about what I've done so far, and trying to answer the question I see many people asking: should you sell or open the wintersday gifts?

Tixx's Infinarium


This might be the first activity most people notice, as it's the big portal immediately downstairs from the waypoint. It's a dungeon and it will, of course, be much easier with a team than alone. It doesn't take that long to finish either. Tixx's Infinarium is mostly about preventing the Skritt from stealing presents or defending NPC's from malfunctioning toy soldiers. I do it regularly for the rewards, because it's probably the easiest way to farm Wintersday Gifts.

Winter Wonderland


This is the jumping puzzle. Like all jumping puzzles, it's a pain in the ass the first time you do it, but once you get the hang of it it's much easier. I don't think I'll be going back to it once I have the achievement for doing it three times.

Snowball Mayhem


This is easily my favorite Wintersday activity. I dislike PvP in GW2, but Snowball Mayhem is great fun. There's three premade classes and you're given one at random at the beginning of each game. It's like Capture the Flag, but with presents.

Of the instanced activities, I haven't done Bell Choir and I've only been in the final rounds of a Toypocalypse instance, so I'll post about those later.

Open world activities


These include building snowmen on magic snow, donating gifts to the orphans, protecting the Dolyak in Divinity's Reach from the Skritt, and a few other things I might have missed. To donate 30 wrapped gifts to the orphans a day, I simply buy those cheap ugly wool socks from the Trading Post, then I get rolls of wrapping paper from the Charity Corps Seraph near Tixx's Infinarium, and then exchange those for the wrapped gifts from the same NPC.

The Wintersday Gifts

So the deal with these gifts is that they sell for a good price, but they also have a small chance of containing even more profitable items. A stack of 250 wrapped gifts is worth around 14 gold, but each of them has a chance of dropping one of five miniatures worth up to 18 gold each, and an even smaller chance of dropping a Winter's Heart Infusion, which is currently worth a whopping 830 gold on the Trading Post.

Players have reported that opening these gifts usually yields 75% of the benefit you'd get by simply selling them. So as long as you're earning them from the events, you're making profit anyway. The only way you can lose money is if you buy them, but even with a reported drop rate of 1 in 100 000, going for the Infusion is a low risk gamble, given that you don't actually lose all of your money. In my case, earning a total of 75g instead of 100g out of this event doesn't make much a difference, so I'm opening them all in hopes of finding an infusion and winning those 830g. 

After all, it's Christmas and it's time to open presents!


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Make Me Quest

I've never been harsh about GW2 on this blog. I enjoy almost everything about this game, but questing... why, Anet? I did almost all of the Mordremoth quests yesterday. I had some of S2 left to do on my main, mostly for the achievements. And I was disappointed overall.

I remember long ago when I finally unlocked Desert Treasure on Runescape. I took on that quest knowing it would be very difficult. Yeah, when I began that quest, all I had at my disposal were eighth mirrors reflecting different areas all across Gielinor, and that was it.
On Runescape, you had no quest markers spoiling the locations you had to discover, and there was no NPC telling you where to go next, it was your quest and you had to figure it all out. Of course, you could google up the answers and rush to the rewards. But in my case, I bought access to the game so that I could play it, not so that someone else could play it for me.

And there I was in the desert, with a cat...
In another quest, Mourning's End P.2, you had to guide a light beam across a three floor maze. The goal was to unlock access to a hidden altar. You had various mirrors and colored crystals which allowed you to split, reflect and recolor the beam so as to redirect it through the correct path with the correct color. Not only that, but the maze was full of high levelled ghosts that made it difficult to navigate. It took me ten hours to finish this quest, first finding the safe spots so I could map the dungeon on paper and then running various tests to see how the light beam worked. And I loved having such a difficult challenge.

What happened to this kind of quests?


To me, Mordremoth quests reached their peak during the exploration of Glint's Lair. It's a very beautiful map and it's the only time I remember having to solve a puzzle, even if it was a bit too easy. I'm not talking about the story of course, it remains good all the way to the end, but as far as actual questing goes this seems to be the best it has to offer.


Aside from Glint's Lair, the rest of the content was just hack n' slash against the Mordrem. I have no problem with hack n' slash games when it's something well done like Metal Gear Rising or Devil May Cry, but GW2 doesn't have the crazy fun sword mechanics of MGR, has no penalty for death like many other RPGs, and in this case there's even three NPCs there to rescue you if you ever get downed. So it ain't these bland, easy boss fights that are gonna help fix the train wreck these quests already are.


And then there's all these parts that could have been challenging, like figuring it out how to open the gate to Caithe's hideout, that are fed to us with a silver spoon. You don't have to figure out that it requires the Torch of Divine Fire and then track it down by yourself, the NPCs conveniently do that for you. All you need to do is just kill some ghosts and loot their ethereal inventories for unheard until now artifacts and that's it, here's your legendary divine torch you worked so hard for.


Now kill another scripted dragon. Have some achievements to unlock so that you don't complain too much about the difficulty.

I'll give Anet one thing: they have the balls to kill off their main characters, even though Eir was expendable at this point. Killing Rox would have been more impressive.


So, a great storyline with terrible delivery. Might as well have been a movie if it was all about the story. This isn't something new however, it's happened to every MMO, even to Runescape. I'm not sure what's to blame for it, but I suspect it's the community. Why would game devs bother creating complex, mind challenging quests if most people are impatient reward mongers who will devalue their work by skipping past all the puzzles with online guides? It's either this, or Anet is taking us for idiots.

Oh well, at least Faolain dies.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Lively Conversations

It's always fun chatting with other people while playing. What would the game be without its community? Of course, I don't mean the typical "where can I find this", "how do I get this done", "when is the next event" boring interrogation that is always happening in every map, at all times. I mean the more sophisticated community content submissions we get in the form of juicy gossip, flame wars and joke contests.


I've been working on Season 2 achievements with my main character. It's always an opportunity to do some Silverwastes event maps and travel to other maps I don't usually visit. I heard some people say this map was dead with the release of HoT, but that's hardly the case. It's great experience for Tyria masteries, and it doesn't hurt the wallet either.


The commander tag comes in handy for these events. Earlier that day, I was on Dry Top and managed to kill a legendary boss I had never slain before, all thanks to my commander tag. If it wasn't for it, I wouldn't have managed to draw as much attention to it as I did. The Sand Giant was a particularly tough boss, it wiped us out twice early on when we weren't numerous enough, and even when more people arrived it was difficult to organize the event because of the sandstorm.


And then there's my find of the day: role players. Two days ago I happened across this tavern in Ebonhawke and found it was full of people role playing their characters. I had never seen this before. It seems to happen at around 8pm, so now I go there everyday at that time. Initially, I just stood at the bar and listened to what other people were saying. I have to admit I wasn't very impressed with much of what was going on. Many role players go for the typical, bland "I suffered a difficult youth and now I'm an easily triggered emo" kind of character. A minority of them seem to have good stories going on, but are fairly reserved and won't trust you easily. Finally, I did come across someone with a more interesting character who was also open for chatting.

A conversation with Craze Ashclaw
While I wouldn't spend an entire day doing this, it's still fun to do as a quick break from grinding. I do enjoy role playing, so why not give it a shot? My character even has a fitting biography now. Armathyx is a commander on a pact airship. That makes her second in command after the captain, in a crew of around fifteen members. For reference, the ranks in a warship are usually captain, commander, lieutenant, and midshipman. Nothing too big, nothing too small, but still exciting, and suitable for my gear.

Hoping to get those S2 quests done by tonight.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Evolution of Levelling

Today I discovered a wonderful website that allows us to recover many of the long lost screenshots from the Imageshack era. Back in the 2000's, most people used Imageshack to upload their screenshots and share them online. But when that website was updated to its new, completely different version, all of those old images were seemingly lost. Fortunately, there is a way around that: the Wayback Machine.

And this is me, a whole ten years ago, on Silkroad Online. These screenshots are full of memories to me:

 

This is my character, Feataler, with my dog Spikez. The pet was already named like that when I bought it from someone. I didn't like it at first, but I couldn't rename it anyway, so I kept it that way. Both names have meaning for me now; in fact, the area itself means something to me, because I've spent hours grinding monsters on it. Silkroad is a Korean grinder, and the levelling process was extremely long in comparison to today's MMOs. It was unbearable to many, but to me it felt good to just kill hundreds of monsters while listening to Dragonforce, it was relaxing, and in the long run having a high level character was something to brag about.

This brings me to my thoughts of levelling in Guild Wars 2. I've been mapping Kessex Hills and Gendarran Fields these past few days, and I've tried to enjoy grinding, killing every enemy I see and gathering every resource I find. To my own surprise, I'm already level 41; I'm not even using Tomes of Knowledge, because then I'd be level 80 in a breeze. At first I thought it was the lack of grinding that made things less memorable, but I thought it over and I don't believe that's what I was missing.


I believe the answer to making things memorable is simply to enjoy what I am doing. To take my time and relax while playing, because that's what I was doing back then, and that's probably why it became so memorable: because I was having fun. I love playing my guardian, its combat gameplay is exciting. It was a great pleasure for me to chain all those centaur-killing hearts in the North-Western area of Gendarran fields. I wish the game had more of these hearts and less of those where you have to go around disabling spike traps and what not, because those are what make levelling in GW2 so much of a chore for most people. I can't understand why grinding is seen as something negative nowadays, when killing things is so much more fun than disabling traps and collecting items, and it doesn't get in the way of exploration anyway.

Some enemies were tough, but mostly because my gear was very outleveled. I even died a few times to Toxic Offshoots and to some elite pirate and his minions.


I eventually just crafted a new set of armor, all level 35, which allowed me to keep up with these bosses and difficult events. I used up a lot of my resources, but I will have to max my crafting skills sooner or later anyway.


Levelling has changed a lot over the past decade. It has become more colorful in general. Most MMOs really suck at it: they'll make you start with some stupidly long and boring tutorial, and then force you through some linear, generic questline. GW2 lets you do what you want, and in the end, I think I found what I needed. I see so many people rushing to 80 and to HoT content nowadays, and I fell victim to that desire in the past as well. But I came to realize that what I've always enjoyed doing was the actual levelling, the farming, the progress. This is what I will remember later on, and not the part where I'm done getting everything I wanted and either quit the game or restart new characters over and over again out of boredom.

Alright, what I'm trying to say is the journey is more important than the destination. Overused proverb, but still true anyway.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Iona Valerius

It's been a while since I've played any character aside from my Engineer. It's fairly rare for me to create new characters, and even more so to stick with them. I don't enjoy playing other classes that much. But my new guardian, Iona, is an exception to the rule.
For a short biography, Iona Valerius is a noble of Divinity's Reach whose parents were assassinated by the White Mantle. She strongly believes in humanity's right to live in Tyria and sets out to fight those who threaten to destroy their kingdom.


Making a new character has allowed me to revisit starting areas thoroughly and see how well the game was doing with getting new players. It's obviously not flourishing like in 2012, but it still has an impressive amount of activity. Although there are certainly more smurfs running around than there are newbies, it's still enough to keep the game high up there with WoW as the most played MMO.

An interesting trio
Blocking party
There are still plenty of people doing the good old Queensdale hearts and vistas, there are still people being amazed at how big Shadow Behemoth looks, and people who die to that veteran boar near the hunting lodge. These are good signs that the game is in good health.

It's also an opportunity to revisit these areas I haven't seen in a long time. Queensdale never gets old, it's truly a mapping masterpiece.

Stars over Queensdale
A walk in the forest
I even discovered things I didn't know before. You can, for example, get drunk at the monastery. There's a cave to the south with signs saying "only truly threatening people may enter". There's a hill that has boar heads scattered all over it.

It's been a great surprise, really. A lot of people complain about levelling, but this is what makes me enjoy the game. New discoveries, the learning process, seeing my character evolve, and so on. I have never played a guardian before, so the magic of having something new to discover is still there.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The New Dailies

In today's blog post, I'll be talking about the new daily events and about how I finally got my Dungeon Master title.

The somewhat recent daily events are a bit different from the original ones. They are different enough that they are a lot more fun to do. In addition to the two gold reward you get for completing at least three of them, you're now given a greater variety of things to do, and it's an entertaining way of exploring all those jumping puzzles and mini dungeons you had never cared about before.



This is Sanctum Sprint and it's one of the activities I have discovered through the new daily event system. In addition to some extra achievement points, it's quite fun to do when there are enough people around. In my case, we were about ten. You can use certain abilities to boost yourself or slow others down, just like in Mario Kart.

Speeding through the start

The finish

These new events are often more laid back than the standard ones, except maybe for the suicide-inducing jumping puzzles. It often results in a friendly environment with other players. Overall they are a great addition to the game and certainly help out with achievement points if you're a completionist like myself.

And yes, at long last I have obtained my Dungeon Master title! With dungeon parties becoming scarce, it was quite a challenge to complete all paths of Arah, but I finally got through with it.


It's not so hard once you have a good group. Not necessarily an experienced, speed running group, but just a group you can get along with. Communication is important when running difficult dungeons, and the lack of it was one of the main obstacles I encountered while doing Arah.


After this adventure of mine, I felt bored of playing my Engineer and I've been thinking about starting a new character. I still have to do S2 quest achievements and unlock a ton of masteries in HoT areas, and I need my level 80 character to do that. However, I also fell in love with the guardian class and I've been dying to play one. I find it quite a shame that mastery levels can only be trained past level 80, because it discourages me from playing new characters. But it might not be too much of a problem in the end; if I really enjoy playing a guardian, it will definitely be worth the time.

The next blog post might just be about that new character...

Oh, also, my fiancée's character is so much smaller than mine!