GW2: can I slow down please?

I might be the only person out there who is unhappy that the leveling process in an MMO goes way too quickly! My “main” is level 50 now, and I have barely brushed any level 40+ zones (of those, I spent some time in Harathi Hinterlands the other day because there was a daily event completion challenge, and that is it, mostly). Now I have another dungeon to go to, and another chapter of my personal story (these seem to last forever). Then, my crafting lags behind my level (as in, I still need materials from the level 30-40 zones), but if I gather these materials and craft enough to raise the bar, I will gain enough levels that between them, the dungeon, and the personal story, I will hit the next milestone again. I just want to be free to explore the world! And postponing the personal story doesn’t feel right either, because receiving quest rewards that are obsolete because of my level makes me sad, like unwrapping a gift to find a pair of baby socks.

I think I’ll quit doing dailies. The reward chests mostly contain writs of experience anyway (the irony).

GW2: PUGs will be PUGs

So, despite the concerns I addressed here, I ended up involved with a guild (these things just tend to happen by themselves, it seems), and ran a few dungeons with them. It is a small (about 20 total) new-ish guild, and the people there are knowledgeable and good-spirited, in other words, just my kind of establishment. Guild being small though typically means we run as three plus two from LFG. And LFG in GW2  is being just what you expect of LFG – a house of obnoxiousness.

Well, maybe not the most odious epic obnoxiousness you can think about. Just the regular “I don’t want to think, plan, or communicate, I want to press buttons and expect everyone else to take care of the fallout” sort. And if the fallout proves fatal, there comes the inevitable second part: blame the others for “not doing their job”. Like here or here.

We were doing the last boss (The Patriarch) in Ascalonian Catacombs path 2. The encounter is very mechanical: there is a boss at the center of the room, and three traps around him. The boss is invulnerable, but gets vulnerable for a while after being lured into a charged trap, so the strategy is 1) charge the traps without aggroing the boss 2) pull him into one of the traps and spank 3) when the buff reappears, pull him into another trap and spank some more. To charge the traps, players use special guns that lie around the room. The guns have two skills: button one, “lift”, button two, “pull”. Channeling lift on the ghostly boss makes him spawn ghostly adds. Channeling lift on an add lifts it up, and channeling pull on an add while it is in the air pulls it towards the player. You need to pull three adds into a trap to charge it. Complicated? Yes. Mind-boggling kind of complicated that no one can understand and remember? No.

So the Guild Leader of Awesomeness briefly outlines all that (mostly for me, since it is my first time there), and some rules to follow: a) take care to only use the “pull” ability of the spectral guns on the adds, because if you “pull” the boss, he will aggro; b) two lifts on the same add don’t do anything that a single lift doesn’t, a pull on an add that isn’t lifted doesn’t do anything, but several pulls on the same lifted add do stack and increase the pulling speed, so it is best if the designated player lifts, and the other four wait for the lift and pull the one lifted add; c) if the boss gets aggroed prematurely, you don’t fight but run – it has a short aggro radius and will reset if everyone breaks distance; d) when the traps are charged and it’s time to pull the boss in, you must stand pretty far behind the trap, otherwise the boss will stop short of the trap and start wreaking havoc with its ranged AoE while still being invulnerable. Of these, part b is optional (it just speeds up and facilitates the process), but the other three are absolutely not.

But apparently, for some people following someone else’s instructions is insufferable, even when failing to follow these instructions makes the mission impossible (again, rules a, c, and d above – break one of them, and the encounter doesn’t become harder to complete, it becomes outright impossible, because whatever you do you can’t hurt a 100% invulnerable boss). One LFG person doesn’t do much harm, just whiffs all of their “pulls” on adds that are on the ground (after acknowledging that pulling an add on the ground does nothing). The other person completely ignores the “1 lifts 4 pull” scheme too, and also keeps standing up to the boss (who gets pulled all the time – either someone targets him with a pull, or someones sigil of fire procs) when everyone else scatters to reset it. Then, after a while, he starts talking back to the leader, telling her to “stop belittling”. Note that she wasn’t flaming (beyond an occasional “[professsion] lol what are you doing” when everyone was hugging the walls and that one player kept fighting an invulnerable boss). She mostly kept asking them to “please do this” and “please don’t do that”, this and that being the core things to do and not to do if we want to get anywhere with this encounter. Then we finally manage to keep all of the a,c, and d at the same time, and the boss gets downed fairly easily. Then after we get out that player starts whispering the Guild Leader of Awesomeness saying she was “annoying” and whatnot, and that we only struggled because “people there didn’t know how to use their skills”.

Er, no, dude. This is not how it works. Hard mechanics encounters mean you have to follow the moves or wipe. For everyone to follow the moves one needs coordination and communication. Coordination means someone tells the others what to do. Communication means if you disagree you can say so. Ignoring what has been said and doing your own thing because you can’t be bothered is not the way to succeed.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a common attitude in LFG, that talking to other players , telling them what you are going to do, asking them to please do something, and listening to them and maybe sometimes doing what they ask you to do, is annoying, belittling, and generally shouldn’t happen. And also, if you are doing enough damage, any trouble must be someone else’s fault. Of course, LFG didn’t create this attitude, but it doesn’t have any means at all to keep this attitude in check, and that is why it flourishes there.

And the other thing I learned about LFG in GW2? Most groups that advertise firmly state “80s only”. Yeah, not going to ever join one of these even when I turn 80. It just reeks of the same attitude: “If we have 5 people who are fully maxed at their professions and have good gear, the dungeon goes smooth”. How about “if we listen to each other and cooperate, the dungeon goes smooth”? Not happening in a PUG.

GW2: hot potatoes

The not-so-subtle Soviet theme for dredge… really ArenaNet? “Ratnik”, “moletariat”, Slavic names.. all that  slapped on a typical “rulebook monster” appearance… Do you think Soviet Union is ancient history, disjoint from any real people? People, you know, with two legs two arms one head, differing from you by 0.00001% (relative to any other thing on Earth) not some disgusting looking ok to kill on sight monstrosities?

I mean, make them adversaries fine, but dehumanizing is over the board IMO.

GW2: guilds.

I am not sure how it works in PvP, but in PvE guilds are a purely social thing until you turn level 80 (and maybe also get yourself certain gear? not sure about it). Let me emphasize again: leveling players are useless for the guilds (except for creating a social atmosphere by talking in the chat), and their guilds are useless to them, except in the form of someone sacrificing their time and/or resource to do a favor to a guildmate. There are no perks for being in a guild (gathering nodes in the home instance maybe? but the guild has to be fairly developed for that). The boon-granting banners are limited in number, have to be operated by an officer, and are likely to be dropped for level 80 content in level 80 places. Guild events like bounty hunting are high level stuff, and while several people may gather together to do a dungeon with an entry level that a lowbie can qualify for, chances of that are slim, and despite the level nerf within instances, the lowbie will still be less useful to the group than another lvl 80 (because skills and traits), so anything you do with your guild will still be “you have to beg/convince people to be nice to you and do you a favor”, or “you are a great person and make friends who are willing to do you favors because you are a great person” rather than “you actually have something to offer (besides your great personality) and it is a mutually rewarding deal”. Sure, any player generates influence for their guild, but the amount of influence you make by logging on and playing solo is infinitesimal compared to what the high levels generate by doing guild events and instances, and buy with money.

And the single worst thing about guilds is that they are account-wide, and while you can choose to “represent” (essentially, “play as a member of this guild”) one of your guilds at a time, you are still visible to your guilds when you are online (on any of your alts) and not representing them. It is like having a friends list with no invisibility option, only you add people not one person at a time, but one guild at a time. Also, from what I’ve seen, guilds are typically jealous about that, and require you to play with them all the time you are online, or justify yourself to an officer. So, when shopping for guilds you can’t get away with playing a bit with these and a bit with these to see what they are like. Imagine looking for new work when your current employer gets an automated warning that you are seeking other opportunities?

Well, I am extremely socially awkward, and I don’t appreciate bringing too much or your real life into in-game conversations (especially when someone is lamenting how difficult their real life is – not looking for advice, just informing everybody how bad it feels for them – I get this feeling of being an unwelcome guest at a party, like everyone here is close friends between themselves (because IMO that’s where these laments belong) and I am just a random person whose presence nobody is even aware of). Neither “convince someone to do you a favor” or “quickly become buddies with people” works for me, so I think I’ll postpone entering a guild until level 80. Meanwhile, I am slowly collecting influence for a one-person guild of my own, and while it is of course painfully slow, I am ok with that as long as it is moving on.