If It Fits, I Sits (In Which I Get Cranky With Matt Wuerffel and Devon Carver: Part 2)

August 19, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, Jumping Puzzle, mmorpg, PvE | 4 Comments
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sab

Let me be perfectly honest. I’m not a huge fan of Super Adventure Box. I think it’s good for a gag once in a while, but I was never a huge fan of platform games to begin with. While I am a fan of Zelda, jumping puzzles, secret rooms and hidden passages, for whatever reason SAB doesn’t really scratch any itches for me. I like the skins, I like that Arenanet was brave enough to try it out, I liked going in there with friends and that sense of old school nostalgia. I did not like yet another form of currency, tribulation mode, farming for baubles, or the combat in general.

That said, I think Arenanet is making a mistake by putting it aside with seemingly no plans at all to bring it back.

Why is that? Well for one, it is very popular. So popular that quite an uproar has sprung up and the normally mild undercurrent of unsatisfied players has begun their screed of patently ridiculous complaints. For instance the top comment in one thread is that Arenanet has released no new permanent content since release. Right.

While popularity alone probably shouldn’t be the only guideline for whether Arenanet brings back content, I think looking at why it’s popular could help. It’s different, very different. I can’t think of another MMO that tried the video game within the video game idea. It servers as a very refreshing change of pace from the usual MMO shenanigans. The tone is completely different. Gone are the life and death struggles, the atmosphere of SAB is far more playful.

And it’s fun. To most people it is very fun. Joyously fun. That’s what video games are about right? If SAB underminded the fun, if it split people up, if it was more frustrating than fruitful then I would understand. But it’s fun. To most people.

For me I have more OCD reasons for having SAB around. I don’t like that Arenanet ever considered for a moment selling the Infinite Continue Coin, a cash shop item designed around the difficulty of in game content, but they did. And lots of people bought it, some of them now demanding a refund and rightfully so.

And I don’t like temporary content period. I’ve always advocated more permanent content and am happy that the living world season 2 has adjusted to what most players seem to want. But that leaves older content like SAB just sitting there. It could be put back in the game permanently couldn’t it? With little to no work? A giant slab of content just sitting there does no good. I’ve also never been a fan of items that go on the auction house for hundreds of gold because they are no longer available and supremely rare, such as the super skins.

I’m sure there are a lot of people who don’t care, or who don’t like Super Adventure Box. That’s fine. Maybe Arenanet’s analytics show that it isn’t as popular as it seems. That is certainly possible. If Arenanet can’t justify making more of SAB then I’m fine with that. The problem is the content exists, the gem store item exists, the people who want it back exist, and not bringing it back, not implementing what we all know is already there is kind of a bad move. I can’t imagine just leaving this wide swathe of content on the cutting room floor just because you don’t want to make more of it.

Put the existing content in the game permanently, put a gem store price on it if you have to, and be done with the attitude that it doesn’t fit. It’s already been in the game and it fits just fine.

Wintersday

December 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Festival, Guild Wars 2, Jumping Puzzle, mmorpg, PvE | 14 Comments
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I love this golem.

I love this golem.

Wintersday was the biggest and most popular festival in Guild Wars so Guild Wars 2 had a lot to live up to with Wintersday 2. I’m glad to say that the festivals so far have blown the original game out of the water.

It seems surprising that they’ve actually managed to put together so much content in such a seemingly small amount of time since Southsun Cove was released. Their production teams must be running on all cylinders. Guild Wars festivals had a lot of content but typically they were built up over the course of years, I feel like Guild Wars 2 has trumped them on Halloween and Wintersday their first time out.

Fully original set-pieces for the mini-dungeon, snowball fight, jumping puzzle, and bell choir. Decorations strung up everywhere, skins, and cash shop items available aplenty. Very little of it is disappointing.

The things I like the most are probably that we get to build our own mini, although I’m saddened that seemingly we don’t get build each one, unless I’m misinformed. Some of the skins are really great, like the slingshot. The slingshot is genius. The earmuffs as well.

As usual the chests are not worth buying. While I’m sure there are a ton of things in them to entice people to buy them, the vast majority of people who do will be disappointed. With the gem exchange becoming virtually useless for changing gold to gems for the average user, it’s best just to avoid random number generators.

As for the activities. I like them a lot actually, but I’m much better at describing faults than pointing out victories.

A long time ago, years before Guild Wars 2 was released, I blogged about the musical instruments of Lord of the Rings. Players there can learn songs and play them for others on various musical instruments. I had wanted Guild Wars 2 to incorporate the same thing. I can’t find the post. In any case I was lead to believe that wouldn’t happen, and, pleasantly surprised during the 3rd beta weekend when I came across an organ in Caledon Forest that you can play. And now with Wintersday we have both bells that you can acquire and play songs with, and the Bell Choir.

Bell Choir is a bit of fun similar to a Guitar Hero like game. And if you like that you’ll like this, but I’ve never been a fan of those types of games. I did play it enough to get the achievement and a few extra rounds for gifts so I do have some observations.

I thought the wait times were too long. Nothing more interminable than having to wait and wait and wait just to be bad at something.

I kind of thought rewards could have been handed out after each round as well, so that I could come and go as I please.

As for the difficulty, it does take a lot of practice just to get to a point where you’re not making a fool of yourself. I thought the timing of when you’re supposed to hit the notes could use some work as well. It seemed counter-intuitive to hit the notes after the lights disappear rather than at the point they cross the line. Took me a while to figure that out.

The free play portion is great, for anyone who can play or understands music. I do not. That’s a full minute of wasted time for the vast majority of people.

Winter Wonderland is a fantastic contrast to the Mad King’s Clocktower of Halloween. It really shows off what is good and bad about both.

Probably the worst thing about the MKC was that the vast majority of your time was spent in that first 5% of the puzzle. So if you’re not any good at jumping puzzles you were stuck with the same aggravating problems over and over. With WW that problem is thrown out the window with 3 different paths and the timing gets tighter at the end of the puzzle, not at the very beginning.

The difficulty is a lot easier for Wonderland too, while MKC threw in a few twists in difficulty throughout the puzzle (some intentional, some not) WW has a few specific hurdles that you can quickly get a grip on. I think that’s also reflected in the rewards. MKC gave up exotic boots, but the most you should hope for from WW is 3 ugly wool sweaters, one of the currencies at the Wintersday vendor. Fair enough.

The snowball fight is really well done and I would say one of the best festival PvP schemes they’ve put together, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have gripes.

For one I think the scout skillset needs some work. It’s tied to some of the regular games issues with longbow on ranger not being accurate enough. It’s just too easy to dodge the scout making the class weaker than the others.

Another complaint is just the starting area. I really despise having to face plant or take falling damage the moment the game starts. You can avoid it most times through some extra effort but I don’t see why you can’t just start running to the gift.

Which is another thing, the achievements get in the way of a good game. It’s hard enough to be paired up with a competent team, you’ll likely either dominate or be dominated when in snowball fight, but if half your teams motivation is either to bring gifts back or stop gifts from being brought back, not to wait for the next gift or play strategically, then we’ve got an annoying problem.

Finally Tixx’s mini dungeon. It’s actually pretty spectacular. The destructible model houses are obviously the best part as the actual objectives are fairly straightforward and uncomplicated. I thought the end boss could be more complicated, there’s really only one boss move you have to avoid, but it was fine with decent rewards. I have to wonder if any of that will change up for its future locations but at least the setting is amazing. As with the rest of the festival.

The Maddening Clock Tower

October 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Posted in Festival, Guild Wars 2, Jumping Puzzle, mmorpg, PvE | 15 Comments
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That lightning has to be a Back to the Future reference right?

There are a lot of negative vibes going around in regards to the Mad King’s Clock Tower in Guild Wars 2. It’s the Halloween themed jumping puzzle you can find after talking to an NPC inside the Mad King’s Realm. It’s got an achievement and rewards a pair of exotic boots for your armour class.

There are a lot of complaints.

– The time limit.
– The cinematic plays too often.
– Unclear edges.
– Camera movement.
– Difficulty.
– Length of time to make a successful run.
– Other players obscure view.
– Other players can troll you with various skills.

I’m sure there are other problems, but that’s the bulk of it. Zubon even goes on to say that it is “a new contender for the worst piece of content ever put into a game” which I have a hard time agreeing with. Frustration leads to hyperbole I guess.

My own experience does happen to find most of the above problems to be realistic however. The first portion of the puzzle, up until around that first jump down to a cube is entirely too difficult for all the stated reasons. My camera jumped in and out, I tripped up all too often on impossible to see bumps and edges. I couldn’t see myself due to all the other players, don’t even get me started on norn and charr. And it took me far too long to do a festival activity. Over two hours, maybe longer, doing the exact same thing over and over. That seems to be strange theme Arenanet has going on this festival. Pumpkin Carving anyone? Crafting Halloween themed weapons? Festivals should not be a grind.

But my only real problems with the puzzle are other players obscuring my view, and the miasmic goo rising too quickly during the first half of the puzzle. Remove these two obstacles and the puzzle would become much less of a giant pain in the ass. I can’t tell you how many times I missed a jump because someone was in my way. I counted the number of times I died on the exact same spot, that little jump down to the cube. 19 times.

Here’s the thing. I get the impression the designer wanted it to be difficult. That’s a good thing in my opinion, I like a good challenge. I don’t even have a problem with designing something so that only a certain elite few can complete it. And hey if you’re going to pour a lot of company resources into content it should provide hours of play time, not minutes of farm.

My problem is if something is a piece of festival content it should be for everyone. That’s why you make it available in low level areas, with low level mobs, where everyone can go. That’s why you make it accessible from the big hubs that everyone can get to.

You don’t design festival content that some people will never be able to finish.

It’s a long way up in more ways than one.

That said I’d like to take a moment to discuss some of the finer points of the puzzle. Visually and thematically it is fantastic. The opening cinematic, the voice-over work, the little rhyme at the beginning are all great atmospheric set pieces. The effects as well are well done, the hands grabbing up at you, the goo rising up, the lightning at the end, I even like the spinning. Plenty of cool jumps and misleading paths as well.

I also like the second half of the puzzle much better than the first. Maybe because there are far fewer people, but there is definitely a better pace being set once you make it past that one big drop. It’s less of a mad dash. The reward is pretty good too. An exotic pair of level 80 Mad King’s Slippers. Best piece of loot I’ve gotten in Guild Wars 2 yet.

And yeah the end is pretty great, the jump in and the satisfaction of knowing. Not knowing that you’ve completed a difficult challenge, but knowing that you won’t ever have to do this again. There is a big difference there, and I hope the designer learns that difference.

On a final note, at least go in and check it out, it is worth the look.

Yes, I did it a second time on my alt, but I chose to do that. I didn’t have to.

Where To Find Jumping Puzzles

June 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, Jumping Puzzle, PvE | 9 Comments
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I’ll remind people that updates are made at this URL not in this post.

I really like jumping puzzles but one thing that sometimes bugs me (and sometimes I find pretty fun) is finding them. There is a time for exploration and then there is a time for just doing the puzzle, so I thought people might like a hand in being pointed in the right direction.

A couple things to keep in mind.

This is solely to help find the puzzles in the first place. Please don’t spoil anything in the comments.

I’ve noticed that there are some puzzles that don’t count as achievements, either you aren’t rewarded or they don’t seem to be “official” jumping puzzles. I’ll note these when I find them.

I wanted to keep it relatively simple so I’ve included a screenshot of the map, and a screenshot of the entrance.

There are too many images, so I’ve divided them up by zone.

Updated: June 17th
Last updated July 23rd: I moved the whole guide to a page linked from the top of the blog. That is where updates will be made, not to this individual post. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Page 2 – Queensdale
Page 3 – Kessex Hills
Page 4 – Wayfarer Foothills
Page 5 – Snowden Drifts
Page 6 – Plains of Ashford
Page 7 – Diessa Plateau
Page 8 – Lion’s Arch
Page 9 – WvW

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