It’s all in a day’s work

My god, I am tired. I can’t possibly say how tired. This week I have finished a 17,000-word dissertation, completed a big deadline at work, dealt with an unwell child, and notched up two dungeons, some world versus world, a spot of exploration and some fine new colours in my dye collection (and missed the search for the dread pirate Penzan). As you do.

This weekend there’s a gig, a big birthday party, a possible dungeon run, structured pvp meeting and a return to world versus world.

Lacking content is not an issue currently.

Dungeon dilemmas

It seems that we were lucky. I wasn’t particularly fussed which dungeon we chose – Ascalonian Catacombs on exploration or Caudecus’ Manor on story mode. But I was leaning slightly more towards CM as I do like to explore somewhere different.

It’s a nice instance. We all enjoyed the way that it started a bit differently, and its use of the environment. It’s given me an extra incentive to get to 45 as I would genuinely like to head back into there to explore more.

However the other group of AC explorers were not so lucky. They were unfortunate in their initial choice of exploration route it seems, as by chance they chose the toughest path to start out. 

I fear I have perhaps become too brainwashed by the GW2 no-trinity mantra. I know that Talon felt strongly that they were hampered by the lack of a heavy armour wearer. I should perhaps have balanced the groups better, but I have become over-trusting of mobility and control skills. Which aren’t overly useful against a torrent of mobs flowing into battle. I still think that there are some perspective shifts about battle in GW2 that we need to grasp better. But that will come.

We had two guardians in our group – and did still manage to (almost) wipe a few times (wipes prevented by swift running back in). Against the first big fight in CM, we had some real problems – and there I feared that the lack of ranged skills for the guardians was a problem. However we did also run into a few flash mob battles, where the guardian’s schwing-schwing swords were rather impressive. The bear took on a higher level guy, the guardians blasted their way through the trash mobs, I placed the healing circle, and it all worked a bit better… But that was almost the last battle, so it did take us a while to get the rhythm of batle right. 

Well, learning, learning, we’re always learning. 

Ascalonian catacombs: or in Bob we trust

We did it! There was shouting, there was screaming, there was cursing, there was damning. But we did it! Woot!

More to follow when not typing on my phone.

Right. At my desk. Let’s not discuss what I should be doing… *cough*

Sooo I have a stack of footage at home somewhere that I can upload to YouTube, up until the point when we were fighting the pair, whereupon my fps descended to 1 and my computer broke down sobbing. Caveat: Note the introduction, as and when I do upload it, not suitable for children. Well, the early bit is, then we started dying a lot more and the curse rate amplified.

It was, to be honest, a pretty lumpy start. Most of us died fighting the first big trash mob, but that’s to be expected. We hadn’t run anything like this before as a team, and there is one hell of a lot to adjust to in this game.

If you do watch the video (if I get around to uploading it) you’ll hear lots of raised voices. I bet people in the other Vent group were having hysterics watching the little yellow lights come in. We did notice that occasional guests came down to check on what we were up to (and possibly laugh). And congrats to Sejl for an accomplished bit of Talon-baiting when he said that their group had run the place in an hour – it took us a long long time. If anyone saw a flurry of Talon yellow lights going, that would have been the moment. Well, that or the moment he was lecturing everyone about mobility. Or maybe when he was crowing about how awesome stealth is. Or the bit where we (actually mostly me) didn’t go stand exactly where he said. *grin* But yes, Sejl’s group (him, Cio, Kaala, Kaz, and Rohke) did run the place a lot more quickly than we did.

Now obviously there were a few different viewpoints at play about how we should improve. (No, really? Would we do that?) And some sharp learning curves.

First, and unanimously, boulders are good. Boulders knock back, boulders interrupt, boulders open doors – there is a good reason that this dungeon is liberally sprinkled with boulders. Believe in the boulder. Call him Bob. Boulders can save you.

The lovers – Vassar and Ralena – are tough. They have to be kept separate, and we weren’t overly good at doing that. Plus the mesmer was spawning multiple illusions that had to be obliterated. Thank god for Bob the boulder however. Needs practice. Ea spotted a glittering slab, which we later found out opened the corridor door. Apparently this is how Sejl and team stopped them in their tracks.

The lack of classic tank or healer means that you have to be a bit more cautious in your build. At one point Ea described himself as a glass cannon – his dps was immense but it did draw quite a lot of attention…

Targetting. Under general, there’s a tickbox which name I can’t quite recall, but it has targetting in there. If you have that clicked on, when someone presses ‘control + T’, a message appears in our text fields, we all hit T, we all have the same target. (That target does also have a large red crosshair above their head to help you as well.) I’ve seen this targetting being used in world versus world pvp – so I’d definitely suggest turning it on.

Mobility. Dodge and roll. Kiting. (Sources of frequent Talon lectures.) Mobility does keep you alive. Well, for a few seconds more at least. Our melee guys were having a particularly tough time. I think partly because the traditional trinity is gone. Partly mobility. Partly that we are still learning to play as a team.

Combos. Combos, combos, combos. I know that Talon is sceptical of the power of combos. But I think they are Bob-like in their undiscovered potential. And I know that as a team close together, Farr and I worked well. Which leads to my next point…

Swapping weapons. According to all I read about rangers, the secret of effective battle is swapping pets and swapping weapons. I don’t know enough about the other classes to know whether this is also true for you (well, not the pet bit obviously), but I think it probably is. Know your weapons, know your fields, know your finishers (ah, the ideal) and we are stronger in effect. My water field healing is one hell of a lot stronger with a whirl, blast or jump finisher.

Traits and skills. Getting the balance right. God knows how, but there’s some magic to work there.

Finally, there’s still some work to be done on our game perspective. I already wrote a post earlier about how we need to be a bit more independent, using our own heals etc. But that is not to say that this is ‘each man for himself’. If we’re five players working independently, we’re rubbish. Yes, we need that mobility and we’re dashing around like mad people (norns, sylvari, asura, charr) but finding a gather spot is useful for our heals particularly, and clearing conditions.

 

An hour bashing our heads against a brick wall

We tried everything. We searched Reddit. We moved onto overflow servers. We ran away from the gate. We stared blankly and sadly at an empty lobby with none of our companions in it. But we could not manage to get into the Ascalonian Catacombs last night. Ten people ready, prepared, primed for action – and imminent and interesting death. And nope: nada, zip, zilch. It would not let us in. Or it would taunt us with two arrives but no more. Neither of our two parties could defeat the vicious demon of server capacity.

It’s a bit sad. And disheartening to a group who managed to muster so many at short notice. But the game is still so freshly launched, perhaps it is to be expected. I’ve bounced off the invisible walls in WoW dungeons enough to know that it happens in even the biggest players on the scene. But even so…

It’s a measure of GW2’s success that they have so many people rushing to experience the content. And for the majority of us regular speed levellers it means that we are hitting that level content at the same moment as the rest of the regulars – and the dungeon servers are overwhelmed.

I’m not sure what will happen next. Arenanet have our money already, but I’ve been impressed by their willingness to turn money away – there are no digital purchases for GW2 currently, as they are trying to manage the flood of people onto the game. Three new servers have been opened for the US and another three for Europe. Perhaps they need some new dungeon servers? (Is that how it works? *bemused*)

Still the evening ended on a positive note for me – thanks to Ea and Sejl I discovered whole new areas, collected many new skill points, and painfully (for them) leapt my way to undiscovered vistas and chests.

But one day we shall return to vanquish the dungeon gate demon!

Within these walls…

The game is live, and so are we.

A few lumps and bumps along the way. A few ‘hmmm’ moments. Some points when we all seem to be rushing in different directions. But that’s fine.

Hopefully *touches wood* the guild and grouping bugs are now (mostly) resolved. Last time I checked I could see and queue influence correctly. Names are now appearing properly. People can represent. There will always be frustrations and bugs at launch. Despite all of Arenanet’s careful beta testing, the sudden onslaught on the world servers was bound to bring up a few anomalies. Despite these problems, we do all seem to be having fun. Long may it continue.

Searching around on Reddit (instead of doing what I’m meant to be doing) has brought up some interesting threads about naming issues, in-game music and the like. However it does raise one bizarre phenomenon. The lack of GW2’s own dedicated forum to this point. I mean, honestly, what is that about? Arenanet made a long blogpost dedicated to their concept of building a community – but then have driven that community to scatter to other sites elsewhere. And will they win them back? It just seems daft.

One thing that SWTOR got utterly right was to bring up the community forums early. Bring the conversation there as the first point of call. Have the numbers venturing into Tyria flooded the system? Is it overwhelmed just coping with registration? Dunno. But I hope for their sake they bring those forums up soon, as without that base, they lose their community.