Guild Wars – The Love Continues

In Guild Wars I’m still working up to playing with “real” people.  I want to combine it with my solo play.  I’m waiting because I’m still figuring out all the basics, such as everything the little mini compass map shows you.  An example is the red dots on the compass map – the red dots are the baddies.   When I couldn’t find the cave I was looking for, I amused myself by watching a red dot suddenly appear on the compass map, as an evil mutant monster insect/crustacean thing rose up out of the ground in front of me.  I feel bad killing the variations of gargoyles in Old Ascalon.  The gargoyles seem to have some sort of a culture (albeit a grunting one), but those monster insect things deserve to die.

It takes me forever to orient myself in a new part of the world.  My sense of direction is not great in “real life”, and it’s not great in the game.  I accepted a quest that sent me to Shalev’s cave (Old Ascalon area) – how hard could that be to find? I had it marked on a map I printed out.  3 hours later, I never found it, but me and my tough little priest henchwoman killed a bunch of monsters.  She’s my computer generated companion, but I’m getting quite fond of her.   The next day I discovered I was looking in the wrong place for Shalev.  I also learned what I didn’t know about the compass, the mission map and the general map!

I’m a member of a “Guild”.  More specifically, my characters in-game are in a guild.  My guild is in what is called an “Alliance” of 10 guilds.   The in-game purpose of guilds and alliances is for PvP – player versus player combat.  Combat can be between individuals or groups.   Guild Wars has several ways of doing this, all of which are said to be interesting and fun.  But – you don’t have to do it.  Some of our alliance guilds are into PvP, some are not, but it’s all OK.   We also use our guilds and alliance for friendly socialization, and for helping each other out in the PvE part (player versus environment) – where we defeat the evil beings in our world.   I was invited to join an established guild and alliance.  Each guild had made enough progress to get their members guild halls.  Guild halls consist of an interior and surrounding space, often an island.   These are shared spaces where only members of our guild and alliance can visit, unless we give someone an invitation.   The spaces are beautiful.  I love visiting them – so peaceful.

You can talk to people in Guild Wars via text chat to the people in your play area, your Guild, your Alliance.  I started to chat with people in the Alliance chat – nice friendly people.  It makes the world seem more like an actual world.  Even if you are doing something by yourself, there are other people in the world, some of whom you know.  It’s nice.

Old Ascalan - monster fight
Old Ascalon – monster fight

 

 

 

My elementalist/priest (magician/healer), right, and my henchwoman priest (healer), left, battle a really ugly monster.

 

 

 

One of our Alliance Guild Halls
One of our Alliance Guild Halls

 

 

 

I walk through water.

 

 

 

 

amarez – mszv

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Guild Wars – I’ve fallen in love again

Last Friday night and Saturday day I played Guild Wars, for the first time in months.  Guild Wars is an MMORPG, a multiplayer role playing game.  Guild Wars makes extensive use of “instancing”, where you have your own copy of an area, all yours to play in.   The towns are  full of “real” people, but the quest areas consist only of you, whoever you choose to bring with you, and the typical computer generated characters that make up games.  I like that a lot.  I can play with people or not, as I choose, and no one gets in my way or spoils the fun for me. 
 
I can also take things slowly when I play by myself – no pressure if I’m slow or take a long time to learn something.   I like interacting with people in an online world, but I’m not good at both socializing and playing a game with people.  I’d rather run around and talk to people in the world, and then do the quests by myself.  This works for me.  It also works well for the story. 
 
I’m not much of a role player – I don’t like to be completely “in character” in an online world – talk completely as if the world was real.  Most people have my playing style – strict roleplayers are not common in online games.  However, when I’m in a quest area, all by myself, that’s when getting involved in the story and really feeling like you are “there” – that’s when it takes over.  When I’m by myself I can get more into the world than when I’m socializing with people.  Being with people is good too – it’s just different.
                      

I haven’t played Guild Wars much since school started at the end of August – no time – so my  February 27th and February 28th play time was a treat.  I fell in love with Guild Wars again.  It’s hard to explain if you’ve never gotten into an online world.  Yes, this is a fantasy setting (like Lord of the Rings, but different) but it works for me.  It’s a wonderful escape from the real world.  My primary character is a magician/healer – in Guild Wars terms that an elementalist/monk.  Combat is beautiful – calling on the elements (earth, fire, water, air) is great fun, and there are wonderful special effects. 

There’s also a story.  I’ve finally gotten past the good times – before terrible things happened to my part of the world.  I’m at the point where evil monsters almost destroyed our main city, and us.  The world is different now – a different kind of beauty, more stark, ruined, we are barely holding on.  The world has also opened up to me.  I’ll be able to travel to other areas that aren’t destroyed and see new things.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Jade Sea. From one of the Guild Wars wikis – “The Jade Sea is located on the eastern side of the Canthan continent. It is the home of the Luxons, whose entire watery realm was frozen into solid jade when the Jade Wind swept across the region.” (http://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/The_Jade_Sea).  What could be better?

Here are some pictures –

My Desktop

My Desktop

 

My desktop, a Dell Dimension 8400 is 4 years old, but I just got the hard drive replaced, and it was still under warranty!  It runs fine, though I’ll be putting more memory in it – 1GB is not enough nowadays.  I want to get a new desktop, but I think I’ll wait until Windows 7 is out.                 

I do like my new screen setup.  Last Thanksgiving I participated in the “Black Friday” shopping experience. I showed up at Fry’s Electronics at 4:50 AM, the Friday after Thankgiving (US Holiday in November) to get my 21.6 inch wide screen monitor, for cheap.  Combined with my 17 inch monitor, I finally have enough screen real estate so that playing games and doing work is a pleasant experience.

Guild Wars Prophesies Pre Searing - Fighting Bandit Blood Sworns
GW Prophesies Pre Searing – Bandit Blood Sworns

 

Guild Wars Prophesies, pre searing.  My elementalist is battling two Blood Bandit Sworns, female bandits who roam the pre-searing world of Ascalon.  These are vicious fighters, and they attack on site! 

You can view yourself closer in Guild Wars, but sometimes I like to pan all the way out to get a more panoramic view of my avatar in the world.

 

GW Prophesies Post Searing - Outside of Ascalon
GW Prophesies Post Searing – Outside of Ascalon

 

Guild Wars Prophesies, post searing.  I’ve pushed the in-game view far away from my avator to get this view. My elementalist (on the right) is on a quest in the area west of Ascalon City. 

I’m with a henchman, a computer generated character who is a member of my party.  She’s good at healing, but not much of a talker.

 

 

 

amarez – mszv

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Public Space, Private Space – the MMO player’s friend!

I wrote this piece as an article for the October Guild of Messengers newsletter – http://messengers.sixpencemedia.com/.    If you aren’t seeing it, the newsletter will be up soon. 

Let’s talk about instancing, in two multiplayer games (MMOs):

     Guild Wars – http://www.guildwars.com

     Myst Online: Restoration Experiment – Uru – http:/www.mystonline.com. 

 

From the official Guild wars Wiki – “An instance is a game location that is specifically generated by the game for a party or group…… Instancing allows a party to adventure by itself without other players stealing kills/loot, but also precludes any chance of meeting a random stranger at a secluded location ……” (http://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Instance)

 

Scenario time –  I’m in Guild Wars, and I need to find 5 gargoyle skulls. I start in an area with people, and I enter an instance of an area – the catacombs. The area is mine alone to play in. The magic, the beauty, the wonder and the fun – it’s all mine! I wander around, and I find some gargoyles – those meanies! I rain fire, and I get my skulls. I leave the catacombs and go back to town.

 

In Guild Wars an instance is not permanent. When you leave an instanced area, your copy goes away. The next time you go exploring , another copy of the area is generated for you. It sounds disjointed, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like you exploring the same area. This works because there are things you can accomplish in an hour or two of play.

 

In Uru instancing is permanent.  When I play Uru, areas of the world, called ages, are set up for me as I explore. Unless I decide to reset an age, whatever I do in my private ages stays “done”, even if I leave and come back to the age. If I push a lever in Teledahn to turn on power, the next time I enter Teledahn, the power is still on. It makes sense to have permanent instanced ages in Uru because the puzzles are lengthy and complicated. If an age was reset whenever I left – I wouldn’t get anywhere! I can also invite people to my private ages – I can share them with friends.

 

This feature of Uru is very appealing. All of my private ages feel, in some way, like home.

 

Both Uru and Guild Wars have shared spaces, an area owned by a group of people. Uru calls them neighborhoods. Guild Wars calls them Guild Halls.

 

Both games have multiplayer public spaces. Guild Wars has towns, estates, outposts. Guild Wars makes copies of the public spaces, so the towns don’t feel too crowded.  Each copy of a public space can be visited by any player. If your friends are in a different public space from the one you are in, you can join them.  Uru has one public space, Ae’gura, the city. About 100 people at one time can be in the public Ae’gura.  Uru also makes copies of the city accessible from the neighborhoods, to enable everyone to visit the city, whenever they want to.

 

Not all MMO players like instancing.  Arenanet plans to reduce instancing for its next game, Guild Wars II, and focus on more of a classic MMO shared game world.  But – I want to say to Arenanet – I love instancing!  Uru is currently not open for play, but there is some possiblity that it will come back.  MORE/Uru will continue to have permanent instanced areas.

 

Here’s what I love about instancing. Online games can be messy, complicated places, particularly for a devoted but intermittent player. They can be annoying to the player who likes both an online world with “people” and a virtual world where you can be alone – or with a few companions. My game time is very limited, and I want to have a good time each time I play. Sometimes I want to experience the beauty and the wonder of the worlds all by myself. I’m social, but there are times when I want to be alone. I don’t want to ignore the people in an online space, like you ignore strangers on the street in a real city. Sometimes I want the “people” to not be there at all! I want to control it – I want to be the one who decides when to be with people and when to be alone, in my beautiful online multiplayer worlds.

 

So please – Uru and Guild Wars – keep my private space!

 

A few pictures – because I like pictures

 

Teledahn - a private age

Teledahn - a private age

 

Teledahn, a private age in Uru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guild Hall View

Guild Hall View

 

 

 

 

 

View from my  guild hall, a shared space in Guild Wars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regards,

amarez – mszv

 

 

Uru – the MMO

Uru is an online multiplayer game (MMO), developed by Cyan Worlds, the creators of Myst.  The game is set in present day.  You discover an ancient city, underground in the desert.  Via the concept of linking books (find a book, open it, click on the image) you are transported to other worlds, called ages.  Gameplay consists of exploring the worlds, solving puzzles to advance the story and unlock new worlds, and finding objects to wear or decorate you home.  When possible, you could also attend live “events”, simlar to an interactive play.
                       
History
Ubisoft published the first online version in 2003.  Several months later the online version was cancelled. Uru was converted into a solo player game.  In 2004, the second multiplayer version of Uru was released, called Until Uru.  There was no new content from Cyan, but players could play the multiplayer version via privately run player owned servers.  There was a $15.00 (US dollars) one time charge if you bought the boxed version of the game.   In 2007, the free servers (Until Uru) were shut down and Gametap released a third multiplayer version of Uru (monthly fee) with new content.  In April 2008 version three was shut down. 

   

In July 2008, Cyan announced that they would self publish a multiplayer version, making this the fourth time a multiplayer version of Uru will be released! The initial release by Cyan will have no new Cyan content, but fans will be able to create their own content (with some restrictions).  Cyan will review player created content and add it to the game, for other players to enjoy.

 

Two good links

MMORPG Article

http://mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm?LOADNEWS=7159&bhcp=1

 

History of Uru – Wikipedia entry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myst_Online:_Uru_Live

 

Three screenshots

Uru - opening screenshot - the desert

Uru - opening screenshot - the desert

 

My first screenshot from the 2003 beta.  I start Uru.  I am in the desert in New Mexico.  What will I find?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uru - Relto - my home

Uru - Relto - my home

 

My private age – Relto – my home in Uru .  This is a private age, though I can invite other players as guests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uru - Bevin - a neighborhood

Uru - Bevin - a neighborhood

 

 

 

 Bevin, a neighorhood in Uru.  This is a shared age, an age owned by more than one player.  The age can be open to all players, or private, which means that only the owners can access it.

 

 

   

 

Do I like Uru?  Yes – I do.  Would I recommend that you play Uru.   My answer – I don’t know.

 

I’ve been with Uru for…well…forever.  I was one of the first people admitted to the 2003 beta test.  I’m been a player, a supporter, a critic.  I’ve been a volunteer moderator for the official web forum, starting with the first publisher, Ubisoft, in 2003, then with Gametap and Cyan. (I don’t mod anymore – short answer – no time).  I’ve made friends.

    

When I was laid off in 2003 (company merger, layoffs, you know the story, working again, all is good), Uru kept me going during unhappy times.  I’ve never considered myself to be what we call an “avid” fan – though if you look at how long I’ve been in Uru, and my involvement in the community, I’m much more of a fan than I think I am!  Uru has been a constant in my life since 2003.   I know the game world – it’s a part of me.  I’ve lived there.  There were times when I would not logon for weeks, but I would always come back.  I have the solo player version of Uru,; it’s beautiful, but I miss the multiplayer version.  I will play MMO URU when it comes back

         

I’ve also been a critic.  Uru is beautiful and sometimes it’s wonderful, but it’s also flawed.  I won’t go into the flaws here (maybe a later post), but think about it.  There is enough interest to resurrect Uru three times (four if you count Until Uru), but then the game was cancelled, several times.  Something is going on.

        

Will you like it?  I don’t know.  I don’t think those of us who have been with Uru forever are the best judges of whether other people will like it.  We aren’t objective.  Uru is our history, our community, our home.  I recommend that you read up, and perhaps, give it a try.  Uru (called MORE) is going to be very reasonably priced – about $25.00 (US) for a 6 month subscription – payable via Paypal, so it will be available around the world.  Here’s a link to the official site, including the online forum.

 

http://www.mystonline.com

 

Enjoy.

 

 amarez – mszv

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