Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Tale of Two Gamers

Or maybe described more accurately as the tales of the noob and the vet. I managed to convince my MMO virgin friend to try out Guild Wars 2. I had ranted to him for probably months on this game, so by now he probably tried it more to shut me up than out of interest. Nevertheless, after winning a beta key for him, we ventured forth into Tyria together with much anticipation.

I was personally extremely excited to see his reactions to everything in game. I wanted to be there for each of his discoveries, and see him fall in love with a genre of game he had refused to touch. After all, it was in the immortal words of ArenaNet’s Manifesto “ If you love MMOs, you'll want to check out Guild Wars 2, and if you hate MMOs, you'll really want to check out Guild Wars 2.”

My friend was extremely kind and granted my one request, that he write down his experiences in the beta.

“So, I came into this beta weekend very apprehensive. I spent close to twenty minutes designing my character to be just how I wanted, went through the intro questions, started the game, and then quickly became confused and disoriented."

He elaborates further on the controls of the game and genre.

“Which leads me to my initial problem with this (or possibly all) mmo(s): I feel like it expects me to know how to play them. I didn’t know that “Q” and “E” let me strafe, or even that holding a button on my mouse allowed me to rotate the screen. Which lead to a VERY painful first 30 minutes or so. Even after learning what all the buttons do, using my 3 fingers (I haven’t learned to use my pinky) to move around  11 buttons while fighting takes a long time to get used to.  I can’t tell you how many times I meant to hit 3 and ending up strafing to the right. Or meant to dodge to the right and just turned the camera twice.”

It’s quite revealing on how far this game has to go before it can truly introduce players who have never touched the genre before.  I must admit, I had to take a step back and recount my first MMO experience.  I recall it being a rather disorienting experience, and I remember having to learn the controls on the first day or two.  However, I do want to emphasize my friend knows his way around video games, but has always been a console gamer.  I thought it would be like learning a controller for an unfamiliar system, but for some reason PC games seem trickier. 

I joined him later on the first evening.  He was close to level 10, and we participated in the jumping puzzle in the Sylvari zone.  He even surpassed my platforming skills and managed to complete the puzzle before me.    By this time, I thought he would be ready for a change of scenery.  I suggested WvW, and thus we charged headfirst into a painful affair.

I expected him to be able to have a decent judgment of his character and controls.  And to be honest, I now realize how vastly I overestimated his ability to be by then.  It was a learning experience for both of us, and I would place most of the blame on me.

“One of the first things he did was to throw me into WvW in a kind of sink or swim type exercise. And I fully admit to the fact that I drowned…quickly and pathetically lol. By the time Entombed left he was frustrated with my frequent death and I was ready to accept my failure at MMOs.”

I would love to say I was a kind and patient teacher.  But, if I am truthful, I was not.  I wanted him to know when to engage, when to run, and when to stagger back defensively.  I’m not sure if we were equipped to deal with the battles presented to us.  He was playing a guardian with a scepter, and I was on my thief.  Admittedly these professions play extremely differently.  When he tried to mimic my “hit and run” techniques, he would die.  Part of this was truly my lack of knowledge of the guardian profession.  I’m not sure how guardians play WvW, and how they can escape from a fight?  I suggested he pick up a staff the next time he died, but he didn’t know where the vendor was, nor did he have any of the skills unlocked.    It was a painful experience.  We all have met players in-game in PvP that we realized had no clue what they were doing, and I have always wondered how the hell they got there in the first place.  It may have just been because a friend threw them in.  I was hoping my friend could pick it up and learn from his mistakes.  However instead of building each other up, we sort of crumbled under the repeated failures.  Teaching and learning is a two way street, and I think we can both admit we weren’t completely receptive to each other.   

However, with the sort of resilience that a new player has, he resumed playing, this time in the comfort of PvE. I left him to his own devices for a quite a while, and I think we only rejoined each other right before the final beta event. His adventures are as follows:

“After taking a break for a few hours, I decided to try again. I went back to PvE and began with the basics.  I quickly got sidetracked by just walking around the forest and town, talking to people, and doing the heart quests. Then dynamic events started popping up. My first memorable dynamic event was to kill fire flies to collect luminescence for the organic light posts. I joined the zerg of players roaming together  and we conducted a great massacre of the local firefly population. Upon finishing, I felt rather accomplished and I even stayed a few minutes to admire the lights. Suddenly the NPC lady comes up yelling that mosquitoes are swarming the lamps and that we needed to clear them away.  I remember thinking to myself ‘Hell no! I worked too hard to get these lights up for bugs to be ruining them!’, right  before savagely attacking the nearby mosquitoes with all the might of a level five. That’s when I realized I was really enjoying myself.  I liked finding random things to do and feeling like I made a difference in the world. I really liked simply hiking to the top of a mountain, fighting the occasional eagle raptor, and just looking at the gorgeous views.”

ArenaNet has something precious here, and I think it’s quite evident in my friend’s writing. The world is compelling and it begs to be appreciated and explored.

“Once while exploring I began to fight a veteran basilisk.  While fighting, I accidently attracted the attention of 2 little basilisks and was cruelly mugged by the 3 of them.  Just as I died a random warrior arrived out of nowhere, killed a smaller basilisk allowing me to rally, and together we finished the other two.   At that point another revelation hit me: The people running around are real people.  It really is quite a strange concept coming from console gameplay.  We started to talk and decided to team up to gain a skill point that was in a centaur camp. We recruited an elementalist to join us, and together we charged into the base. I’ll admit, I almost yelled “Avengers, ASSEMBLE!” as we barged in. I have to say that was one of the highlights for me of the weekend. The team disbanded after we thoroughly defeated our foe, but I know, that when the world needs us again, we will reunite.”

Once again the game mechanics shine.  Name another MMO where this could happen, my friend may not realize that this really is a new concept to MMOs, but I think we can all appreciate it.


  1. " I know, that when the world needs us again, we will reunite."
    Epic way to finish his thoughts especially when the "role" of the player in Tyria is to be a hero!
    I also managed to nag a friend of mine and made him give GW2 a try, we had played an MMO( Ragnarok Online) more than 5 years ago and we both left online worlds because we got "burned" by the grind...Not even 3 hours in the game, my completely PvE player was deep in WvW recovering camps, reviving people and going "wow" over every keep fight haha
    GW2 has just the right mechanics for it to work
    and please every gamer. He asked stuff like "Are you sure I can KS?", "Everyone can revive??" and my personal best "If we party up we will lose exp right?"...Anyway, he just bought the game and is preparing for launch :D
    Did your friend that was a WoW player also wrote some thoughts to share?

  2. You just made a stupid mistake: only 10% players are real PvP fans; the other 90% can, maybe, tolerate PvP, but don't like it (and if you come saying that EVE is a PvP game, I advice to look the statistic that show more than 80% players just not get out systems 1.0-0.8).

    Let be real, it is a carebear world outside, mostly for who NEVER played a MMO. One thing your friend talk show all difrerence: "At that point another revelation hit me: The people running around are real people". Yes, that is a MMO, people runign around ARE real people, not an AI.

    A consoler gamer will have problems with the consoles, but mostly she too will have problems palying against other players: she never fought other players, only the AI.

    And take note: it is problable that a consoler gamer, when trying a MMO, be one of the 90% that do'nt like PvP, only tolerate it.

    Never do it again, never get a consoler game to PvP as first experience: you will just help to that player hate MMO.

  3. Yeah, I think the biggest lesson to learn is to just sit back and let the other player breathe and take things in at their own pace.

    Personally, I only think computer games are harder than consoles is when there's way too many controls. Consoles generally require quicker responses and are even less forgiving early on. Even if you die a lot, you can still muddle your way through an MMO in a way that console games typically don't allow. I mean, it's not like you can bypass King Koopa and move on to something else if the fight's not going well. I think that's what throws people, even many existing MMO players when playing Guild Wars 2. It's okay to make mistakes in this game, and even fail. Sometimes failure is what drives the dynamic events. There's a greater emphasis on learning and growing.

    The one game I never made it past learning the basics on was one of those Resident Evil games. I've never gotten a handle on movement systems that don't allow me to just point the directions I want to go, and go. The game didn't give me time to learn it either. I was always attacked by a zombie before I had a chance to get a handle on the movement controls. MMOs give you more time, people just have to take that time instead of putting more pressure on themselves than the game does, and we have to allow it. There's no rush, and no zombie is going to chomp on you in the first few moments if you don't have a handle on all the controls. I think I made it to level 7 in GW2 before I even remembered dodging and kiting...but I made it to level 7.

  4. PvP is a huge adjustment for people who aren't used to it. Ask those same people to try chess if they never had and you'll get the same frustrated reactions.

    On a side note, I just started my own Guild Wars 2 blog and I really want to see what you think of it. My first major post is on ways to make gold during the 3 day head start. Could you find a moment to comment on the post and let me know what you think of it? Especially since you have so much experience already with the game and I'm pretty new to it. Thank you if you find the time to comment!

    Here is the post:

    5 Tips to Making Gold During 3 Day Head Start

    1. Markco, nice blog, but maybe you need write about other areas and not only "economy of GW2" and "how to make money". Maybe a guide about crafting can be usefull, but that too ican be too much "economy" and "money making".

      Some people will play just for the fun, be PvE or PvP or both. Thye will not care about money.

      IMHO, can be a good idea write about how combos work, how to be more effective at combat, where to find jumping puzzles, and, mostly, things that will help newbies.

      Here goes my contribution:

      guardian with greatsword, normal mobs, click 5 (bind mobs), 5 (pull mobs to melee range), 1 (start autoattack), 2 (symbol, starts combo), 4(jumping attack, finishes combo, massive damage, heal), 3 (whirlwind, aoe), then spam 1 (chain attacks) until 2,3 and 4 dc.

      stronger mobs: same as above, but not forget to dodge (I set dodge to R from V)

      boss mobs: just swap to scepter and torch and make ranged attacks from a safe distance, guardians are not tanks... or go melee boss, but it is better you knwo how to dodge or you die...

      ranger: people know that 6 will heal pet? they know that F4 swap pet? Why I played ranger at last BW3 and I had no problem with pet being killed all time as everyone says it is happening?????

    2. It's a pretty nice blog. I actually disagree with Joao, and think 'niche' blogs can do quite well.

      I think you may have made a mistake. I'm not completely familiar with crafting, but it has been known for quite some time that switching disciplines does not mean you lose progress in your previous one. You can have two active at once, but you can make progress in all of them. Bear in mind, the higher your skill in the discipline, the more expensive it is to switch back.

    3. OK thank you entombed. Now that makes much more sense!

      Thanks Joao for the ideas!