Archive for April, 2010

Link Love and the Picking of Nits

Guild Wars (2) bloggers, are you out there? I finally meandered my way over to a Guild Wars 2 forum and started to settle in. I was also able to root out some other like-minded bloggers, and yes, you can be assured that I squealed in glee like a sow turning over a plump truffle.

Check those guys out, the first two I like especially.

Now, I’m going to do what I do best. Namely, extrapolate obscene amounts of speculation from a single image.

Behold, my victim!

Feel free to click it to see it full-sized.

What are we looking at?

An elementalist, human, casting churning earth on a marauding band of handsomely-dappled centaurs. (ok, I lied, they’re not dapple centaurs, they’re paint centaurs. I still think they look nice.)

The really interesting thing, however, is that shockwave around our intrepid little elementalist. I’m curious about how the graphics for that shockwave work.

Back in college, when I was first learning my way around computer graphics software, a classmate and I merrily engaged in a game we called ‘crash the computer’. His favorite tactic was obscene use of the extrude and mesh smooth functions, while I preferred to make everything reflective and refractive with interesting lighting set-ups. (we were both frequently successful).

Needless to say, real-time effects like reflection and refraction (what’s happening above with the shockwave) are expensive in terms of computing power.

The rock debris, however, looks to be economically produced. I think the spikey bits shooting up beneath the elementalst are almost certainly textures mapped onto flat planes (a frequently used tactic for grass and foliage, see the trees in the background). The flying spears of rock, however, are more difficult for me to pin down.

You can tell they’re not lit dynamically which argues for the texture to plane technique. But then again, I wouldn’t expect a spell effect to take lighting cues off of the ambient light due to processing restrictions. They do, however, cast shadows which, while likely to give an aging machine an aneurysm, looks really nice.

Granted, I could just go look at the video which provides a different perspective to the same skill, but even with an animated aide, I can’t really tell. What do you think?

Notice the ring of bouncing rocks and dust. This is an example of what Arenanet was talking about when they said they wanted to make it easier to see where area of affect skills were going to land. I still wonder how obvious something like that is going to be with all the game’s settings turned down though.

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Now Don’t Get Your Tail in a Twist

First off: Arenanet? You are such a tease. But you probably already knew that, and that’s ok.

Secondly, a new article came out about the skill system and weapons. The article advertised some racial info but I found the article to be pretty anemic on that front. That’s ok too, there’s plenty else to chew on there and patient Tiger is patient.

I’m seeing some baaaawing about it on facebook (I should really find a forum to haunt) as well as some misunderstandings. I’ll go ahead and distill the information into short, concise points. I’ll put my personal speculation in parenthesies.

Weapons – Split into three categories:

  • One-Handed: Axe, dagger, mace, pistol, scepter, and sword.
  • Two-Handed: Greatsword, hammer, longbow, rifle, shortbow, and staff.
  • Offhand Only: Focus, shield, torch, and warhorn.

Notes – Some professions can wield One-Handed weapons in their offhand. (This implies such exciting combos as dual daggers, sword/pistol, etc).

Weapon Skills – Yesterday we learned there will be 10 skills, 5 of which will be determined by what you’ve currently got your grubby little mitts around at the time. Further reading in this article reveals that:

  • 3 skills will come from your main-hand weapon.
  • 2 skills will come from your off-hand weapon.
  • Different skills will be supplied when you pick up random bits of detritus.

Environment – Many, MANY things can be interacted with. It also sounds like environmental objects can be manipulated to create new objects.

Example:

Breaking a barstool over the head of a rowdy bar patron can yield a chair leg that can be used to great effect as a club.

Professions – I was right about the number of professions. Excuse me for a moment while I pat myself on the back….

There, now on to the highlights:

Professions are split into 3 groups based on armor class:

  • Scholar: Wears light armor, 3 professions fall into this category. (Elementalist is likely among them. This could also include Necromancer, Monk, Mesmer, Ritualist, and possibly the Dervish from the original.)
  • Adventurer: Wears medium armor, 3 professions fall into this category. (Ranger, Assassin, and possibly the Dervish could fit into this category from the original.)
  • Soldier: Wears heavy armor, 2 professions fall into this category. (Warrior and Paragon could fit into this category from the original.)
  • (I doubt all these professions will be in GW2. They did mention that there would be some new classes mixed in with the old. I for one have got my fingers crossed for the Assassin and Mesmer to make the cut.)

Secondary Professions, sadly, will not be included in Guild Wars 2. This isn’t something that makes me raving mad or makes me want to cry, but it does sadden me a bit. I was never one to make heavy use of secondary professions, but I did think it was a neat mechanic that set Guild Wars apart.

Instead of having secondary professions, however, it appears that there will be some heavy synergy between the 8 single professions.

Example:

the Elementalist might drop a Wall of Fire in front of a group of enemies. The warrior could enter the firewall and use Cyclone Axe, an attack which causes him to spin rapidly, sending the firewall outward and hitting his foes.

Races – It sounds like the second 5 skills are available for racial skills. (What isn’t said, however, is if these slots are only for racial skills or if you can choose between racial and profession skills for these slots. My guess is that the latter will be true.)

Elite – Aaaah the elite skill. I have many a memory of adventuring way out in the back of beyond with my husband (and any hapless friend I dragged along) in order to hunt out a certain boss to capture an elite skill. In GW2 it’s said that we will have an elite racial skill. I don’t know if our available elites will only be racial, but I for one hope not. There’s also no word on how skills will be obtained. This bears watching.

I hope I can get a new computer soon. I’m already tired of distilling someone else’s news. I don’t suppose anyone knows if an AMD Athalon II X2 3.0Ghz processor is appreciably different from an AMD Phenom II X2 3.1Ghz processor? I’m not going to quibble over .1Ghz. Here’s a link to the comparison. (Psst, I’ll be springing for the Asus Crossfire III motherboard, all other components I’m willing to take second-best so long as it’ll let me run Maya, Photoshop, Firefox, and Winamp all at the same time)

Of Charr and Lightning

As I have, in the past, expressed my dislike for those blogs who do nothing but regurgitate news, my posts over the coming months may come as a bit of a surprise (depending on who you are).

If you are:

  1. A long-time reader of mine: You may be horrified to find that I am, indeed, regurgitating news. I hope you won’t be too disappointed with me however because of the reason I’ll be surprising-
  2. A new reader, interested in news of Guild Wars 2: You’ll be getting some news, though likely not as much as you’d like. What you will be getting plenty of, however, are copious amounts of my personal opinion.

I’m the kind of person who hates being given advice and opinions unless I ask for them. As such, I try not to burden others with my (often morose) maunderings. Opinionated stream-of-consciousness writing, however, comes with the territory. It’s my blog and all that fun jazz.

So, without further ado…

DID YOU SEE!?!

Grandma, my what big TEETH you have!

That, my fine feathered friends, is a Lady-Charr, an elementalist Lady-Charr. I found this ‘new’ screenshot on the GW2 website, under the just-released info on everyone’s favorite lightning-slinging class, the Elementalist.

Because I like to pretend to being a logical-type person I’m going to guess that the Charr can be Elementalists. (not that big of a cognitive leap, I know, but bear with me, the acrobatics are coming)

I’m going to guess that all classes are available to all of the races. I’m not stating this as any kind of assurance as I really don’t know, but I’m putting my toes out there in the water and saying “That’s my guess.” Mainly, I have to say that if any of the races were to not have elementalists, I would have put my money on the Charr eschewing the lofty art of meteor-chucking.

You know, that whole ‘power from false gods‘ debacle. But we’ll not talk about all that in polite company, it’s an issue best left in the litter box.

Charr being able to call down fire from the skies makes me quite happy. Not because I want to be a fire-slinging puss, but because I want to slip into my familiar Guild Wars role of healer. I was starting to get a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to have my favorite combo (Healer/Charr).

A quick note on the point of my quotation marks about this ‘new’ screenshot. The shot is, indeed, new. But it’s only really new-ish. If you’ll recall this image, you’ll notice that the Lady-Charr is in exactly the same pose as she is in the elementalist picture. She is wearing different clothing which reminds me a lot of the original male elementalist get-up in Guild Wars 1, which I find oddly entertaining.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I suspect that either the Charr animations are still being worked on, or whoever assembled the screenshots was sorely pressed for time. It’s a lot easier to toss a new texture onto a model and drop that down into a scene than it is to worry about posing it. I will, however, remark favorably on the artist’s deft use of the Golden Ratio in composing the screenshot. From this artistic team, however, I would expect no less.

There’s also an exciting article about the new combat system.

I don’t want to go on at length about it as I really can’t make any judgements until I experience it for myself. Watching the videos gives me all kinds of tingly-excited feelings and makes me long for my new computer. (I have none right now because I’m being very patient and saving up for something very powerful)

On the note of computer specifications, however, I have a slight feeling of trepidation. I want to draw your attention to the following quote:

Our goal is to design skills that are visually unique and explain them without overly complex skill descriptions. This has resulted in a lot of distinct and impressive skill effects in the game. Even a simple skill like fireball explodes in such a way that you can clearly see the area that they will affect.

It will be telling to see what these fantastic effects look like on an older machine. My husband’s computer is actually the frankenstined monstrosity that limped through college with me. In computer terms, I would call this puppy a little more than slightly infirm. Too much white on the screen makes it flicker and it often struggles to open a word document.

Even with all its shortcomings, however, we still use it for online gaming. He still plays World of Warcraft, and I use it on the weekends to putter about Guild Wars and poke at facebook every now and again.

I remember the difficulty, however, when I was raid-leading in WoW. I’m talking about area of effect skills. It was often difficult, even with WoW’s simple artistic style, to see exactly where a certain spell was landing. I could never MT Grobbulus in Naxxramas, for example, because I had to turn my visuals down to minimum in a 25-man raid. With visuals down that low I couldn’t see slime clouds until it was too late.

That’s my worry about a game as beautiful as Guild Wars. Arenanet has a history of solid backwards-compatibility, but we’ll just have to wait and see. I, at least, have high hopes.