Tag Archives: art

Guild Wars 2 Revisited: Defying Classic Conventions

guild wars 2 combat
So I’m super-enjoying my gentle return to the beautiful, yet (of course) corrupted and war-ravaged lands of Guild Wars 2. Some things I’ve noticed by virtue of a “beginner’s mind” are:

Tons of tones in character creation. I’ve puzzled in recent months why Elder Scrolls, Rift, and Pillars of Eternity don’t give you more choices. What’s wrong with smoky purple thighs?

Auto-level matching in an area. It’s so nice get matched up to the content. Less worry about this meta-issue.

Auction House. I gave up on auctions in Elder Scrolls at the end, and was just vendoring everything. The GW2 trading post is a web app spliced into the game UI, and there are so many bids that you can sell everything almost instantly, plus get all proceeds in one lump instead of opening twenty mail items. It’s almost overly easy, but still a relief.

Megaserver And Maps. I was worried a few years ago that megaserver architecture would ruin immersion, but the benefits of the many outweigh the friendship of the few. The dynamic GW2 maps are also brilliant and surely the envy of other MMOs.

Community. I’ve been really impressed by the GW2 forums and community, especially when the game should be in low ebb before an expansion launch.


A Game World Unplugged


I seem to be going down the same old road of disconnection from the Guild Wars “world”, though. The main design goal of GW2 is to throw MMO design conventions on their head, that is–to kill the traditional quest hub and move all quests out into the roads, ruins, and hills, increasing the world immersion, ironically.

Some of these random quests are fabulous, like using a cow-launcher to get to an overlook, or failing to save a traveling caravan from a bandit attack, leading to a new dynamic quest to strike back and retrieve the stolen goods from those bandits.

The exploration in Guild Wars 2 is also a joy, and I’ve spent oodles of hours working on map completion.

The primate mind works on the principle of dominance, which is why this principle has been golden in art and design for thousands of years. This principle works for all art, novels, and the zones and NPC quest givers in World of Warcraft. I haven’t found a Goldshire in Guild Wars 2 yet, nor a Gandalf.

In Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci used his sfumato technique to render a beautiful backdrop of hills, woods, and bridges. I wonder how many people care about that landscape.

Would six million people visit the Mona Lisa each year if we removed the Mona Lisa completely, leaving only a beautiful, intriguing landscape, ripe for the plundering? No. You get the picture.

The result is lots of well-made and voiced NPCs, but they are still generic (to this kitty).

After completing quests from these NPCs, you’ll also get personal letters and notes from them via the mail. The notes are brilliantly written, and the writers have done their jobs well. The problem is that after you get twenty mails, they all start to look the same, and you know you’ll never see these pixels again. There is no point in remembering those names.

So it’s the principle of dominance. The human brain (or at least this kitty’s) needs a few solid lifelines to focus on. I remembered that I originally quit Guild Wars 2 because I’d completed the level 30 story quests. I was grinding at level 35, and my next story quest was level 40.

I just lost the lifeline at that point. What happens if you tell your ten-year-old kid he can’t read another chapter of his favorite book until ten weeks from now. He’s going to go read another book, and that’s exactly what happened with me.

This time I plan to keep going. Removing the Mona Lisa from the picture is better than removing the Mona Lisa’s nose and flashing notices in the middle of my screen letting me know the feature is now on sale in the game store.

Plus, I love my guardian’s quirky swooping Owl Attack. Hoo hoo.

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Elf In Real Life ~ Epitaph

I haven’t played any games in a few weeks. Over the weekend, I managed to complete a new piece of art, one I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The image below is my Elf Rune-Keeper and Elf Warden from my two LotRO accounts. I might still be playing LotRO if I could transfer my level 85 Warden over to my main account. As it stands, I’ve uninstalled.

So, an epitaph. I tried to get across the impression of Lothlorien. I didn’t want to go crazy on this picture.

Otherwise, I’m back to the novels. I’m trying to finish my fourth novel, setting up to publish all four in the series at once. Basically, ISBN numbers are expensive, so you have to buy them and use them in a bundle. The last I checked, Apple won’t publish proper fiction in its “ecosystem” (not an Apple fan) without a proper ISBN number.

After that, back to the website and my video game project. The fall term is ending (with the kitty hissing and spitting at Dreamweaver), so I’ll have a bit more time on the weekends. Gosh, the snow effect falling on my WordPress blog looks beautiful on that picture. *sniff*

Lesbian Elves Elf LotRO Rune-Keeper Warden


Weekly Wyrm Oct. 26, 2014: Sex And Crime Edition

rift nightmare tide screenshot goboro reefA few notes before I get to Rift.

In my last post, I mentioned a sort-of sex scandal in an upcoming big-name RPG title. After a few days of reflection, I’ve decided I can’t name and discuss this developer or the possibilities for pushing the edge of RPG romance.

So I’ll only say that a female lead on the writing team in this RPG project is a professional erotica writer, a writer who I’ve worked with in the past. This was in an online writer’s group. She’s also a long-time supporter and former participant in National Masturbation Month, having tweeted about it as recently as this year.

(I took a pass. This kitty is too lazy to ooh-la-la every day.)

She’s completely open about her credentials–as an award-winning fiction writer and professional. Now she’s in the gaming industry, however. Given the current climate of #gamergate and the disgusting current climate of harassment of women in the gaming industry, this is cause for concern.

Felicia Day came out this last week in support of #gamergate commenting on her own experience of harassment, speaking candidly of her own fears and depression. Her Tumblr post has 44000 notes a few days later. To underscore the realness of this issue, Felicia immediately faced the consequences with her personal details being posted online.


Art, Crime, And Consequences


The other highlight of this week (besides the Rift expansion), was a tweet re: an Associated Press article about artistic defacement of rock formations, a story first reported by Casey Schreiner on modernhiker.com, leading to authorities getting involved.

Casey went on to write a followup article on why this is such an important issue.

I’m a big fan of Casey Schreiner from his former show “The MMO Report” on G4. I’m also a big fan of hiking, and it was cool to see him suddenly pop up in the national news, no longer citified and clean shaven–instead with a big bushy hiker guy beard.

My take on this issue is that it’s a symptom of American narcissism. Social media is like addictive candy for the need to be special and get attention.

So it’s ironic that social media is this graffiti artist’s downfall by providing the proof. It wasn’t enough for Nocket to just sneak away and leave her art in the park, content that lots of people would see it. She had to post it.

Whatever Nocket’s psychological needs are, they are too strong to overcome better judgment. And that’s sad. She’s a girl who needs help and better parenting like most criminals, but instead she’ll get a fine and/or a prison sentence.

If there’s a world capital of narcissism, it’s California, and as of yesterday, Nocket’s Tumblr blog is gone, only to be taken over by a California street art group looking for attention and promising copycat crimes.

You dudes are so badass! Spray painting rocks is so cool! Almost as cool as a few other dudes last week shooting up the Canadian parliament and attacking police with hatchets, but no. Not really.


Rift: First Impressions (Mostly Positive)


This week has been a mess. On Thursday I went to play, and there was a bad patch forcing everyone who updated at the wrong time to have to completely re-install the game. Fail. Trion compensated with 750 credits, which was generous.

On Friday, three shards destructed, and the Faeblight shard was the hardest hit with a 24+ hour rollback. People were not pleased. Luckily I was busy and didn’t play much until yesterday. I lost a bunch of artifacts I’d harvested.

On the other hand, last night I was doing an event (shown in the image above), where someone called a guild in with a rally flag, and we had at least two full raids on a road where it passed under a giant natural coral archway.

During the epic battle against the evil, the mermaids in the reef started singing. It was one of those memorable game moments! Wow!

The use of “evil” verbiage to give the impression of an enemy is actually one of my very few objections. Otherwise the expansion writing so far is fantastic, nailing the three most important points–characters, characters, and characters. With a sprinkle of narcissism on top.

Overall, the expansion has been awesome, maybe the best I’ve ever played. More Rift impressions next time. Ciao for now and happy gaming.


Forsaken Inn Of Unplayable Races #5 and #6

A new comic strip episode is up in the sidebar. I like the colors and tones in this one. I came pretty close to the purple color that I associate with the spider goddess Lolth (worshiped by the Drow elves in the Underdark), despite being too lazy to look up it first.

One final Forsaken Inn episode after this one is planned.

My gaming is still languishing while I work on projects and now class. Today I found a fabulous book on clearance at the Scottsdale library store: The Maps of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

I’ve loved maps and making maps since I was a child, when I created devious dungeons for my brother and friends to adventure in. I’m looking forward to reading the historical textbook and accompanying poster-sized artwork when I have time.

The comic took like three days worth of my spare time eek. So you’d better damned well enjoy it, dear humans of earth.


comic strip episode 5
comic strip episode 6


Weekly Wyrm ~ April 1, 2014

This week I played WoW and Hearthstone. No big surprise. Hearthstone’s popcorn play of daily quests works for me. After several months of this, I might have some playable pro-level cards if I’m lucky.

So. We’ll see if that happens.


Elder Scrolls Online


The ESO headstart was a complete disaster as many predicted. The servers were down most of today, and many players complained about a certain gender-swapping frog in Morrowind whose curse became permanent.

In response to angry tickets, the game-masters were quoted as saying “screenshots or it didn’t happen.”

Ok, that was my lame April fool’s joke, but this crazy idea is the sort of immersion that fantasy RPGs need instead of logging in and paying cash for special account services.

I preach immersion, but no one ever listens to me. Frog. Curse. Kiss. Win.

In truth, by most accounts the ESO launch so far is near-flawless. The Storm King (from LotRO) even made his first infamous “I hate this game” post.

I watched some Twitch TV of ESO power-levelers and wondered what possesses these guys to play that way, speed-clicking through everything. I suppose it’s their self-appointed duty and goal in life. I have no idea.


The Tumblr Game Blog Of The Week


I abuse Tumblr every day, but I haven’t seen many game blogs lately.

Build A Dungeon From Me is a young blog with some nice fantasy art, including the revamped cover of Naked Doom as shown below. Naked Doom has a lot in common with Elder Scrolls–you start off as a prisoner, with rags for clothing and no weapon.

Tunnels And Trolls (pen and paper) was the first RPG I ever played. I preferred T&T over Dungeons And Dragons due to its choose-your-own-adventure style solo modules. The AD&D rulebooks did have a random dungeon generator to play with.

Naked Doom (the original cover) was one of my favorite modules due to the beautiful artwork by Rob Carver, later eclipsed by the spectacular art in City of Terrors.

Other posts at Build A Dungeon From Me include old art covers for Talisman, AD&D, White Dwarf magazine, and Steve Jackson’s Sorcery, another game I explored a bit, although by that point I was playing Ad&D with friends.

Naked Doom Tunnels And Trolls Cover Art