Boon or Bust: The April Feature Pack

Boon or Bust

One thing that has become more apparent over Guild Wars 2’s lifespan is that what sounds good in concept, does not always pan out in implementation. This was one of the forces behind the creation of the April Feature Pack. The blog posts highlighted coming changes that were exciting, user-friendly, and appeared to be a move in the right direction. Patch day came and went, leaving me with this feeling that the game had taken one step forward and three steps back. Rather than blog about these problems essay style, I decided to formulate a to-the-point list of the “boons” and “busts” from the April Feature Pack.

Keep in mind that these observations are not only mine but some of those I play the game with. In addition, since I am not a huge PvP or WvW player, I’m not as aware of everything this patch changed in those spheres of gameplay. If anyone would like to add anything to a category on the list, feel free to leave a comment below. Remember, this is only concerning the April Feature Pack.


The Wardrobe

My engineer's new look, courtesy of the wardrobe system

My engineer’s new look, courtesy of the wardrobe system.


  • Exclusive skins (Living Story, Personal Story, Legendaries) can be reused once unlocked
  • Encourages players to go out, hunt down skins, and fill out their wardrobe
  • Encourages players to acquire the hundreds of dye to use across all of their characters
  • Advancement in the wardrobe is now account-based rather than character-based (dyes and skins are all account-bound
  • Frees up bank space that was previously occupied by armor/clothing skins


  • Players that liked to acquire their “look” early for lower level characters are at a disadvantage now that fewer transmutation charges are rewarded for map completion
  • Town clothes were replaced with non-customizable endless tonics


Megaservers and Event Bosses


  • Helps fill zone populations that were originally sparse and allows for more “on-the-fly” teamwork
  • Allows easier congregation for players of the same guild, same party, and even those who speak the same language
  •  Ideally, event bosses are less likely to go unchallenged
  •  Some bosses have better difficulty scaling
  • Guilds can now activate certain event bosses through guild activities


  • Megaserver city populations have significantly increased loading times for racial cities (think Lion’s Arch pre-Scarlet)
      • Cities may be better off as the only zones that are bound to home servers
  • The new contested waypoints have muddied up travel between maps, often forcing a player to waypoint twice to get where they need to
  • There are fewer “World Boss Tours” because of  non-flexible “Pre-Event” and “Event Boss” timers
  • Takes the common player out of the picture for event bosses (loss of spontaneity and exploratory aspects of discovering boss events)


Runes and Sigils

Whew! Look at that healing support.

Look at that healing support. LOOK AT IT!


  • Made complete runes sets more worthwhile with greater payouts with the fifth and sixth runes
  • Balance changes for the runes and sigils were mostly fair
  • Two-handed weapons are now allowed two sigils instead of one
  • Allowed for more healing-based support roles


  • Boon duration stats took a hit



**Original Image source: A level 30 trait that requires you to map a level 80 zone. NOPE!


  • Traits can now be reset on the fly, at no cost
  • Condensed trait points (1 point now is equal to 5 points from the old system)


  • Can’t test traits outside of Heart of the Mists without unlocking them
      • The new Grandmaster traits have to be unlocked in PvE before they can be used in PvP
  • The Adept trait tier is unlocked at level 30; however, many of these traits require the player to complete higher level content (think level 50-80 content)
      • This essentially keeps new characters from build completion until levels 70-80
      • It is HUGE deterrent to players who like to make alts
      • It widens the power gap between lower level WvW players and fully-leveled ones
  • Trait unlock locations are the same across every profession making unlocking these traits repetitive and boring
      • Some of these traits require a player to map an entire zone (often one that’s out of their level range)
  • Some traits are only acquirable in World versus World, essentially forcing PvE players to PvP to acquire certain traits rather than offer various methods of acquisition for single traits (vise-versa for WvW players).
  • Trait unlocks are character-bound
      • For example, if you delete a guardian and create a new one, you have to unlock all of the traits again. Prior to the patch, this was a non-issue because of how easy traits were to acquire. Now, the idea of remaking and “traiting” a new character is worth at least several hours of uncontrollable sobbing
  • Leveling is slower for some professions with few swiftness-based skills because swiftness traits are more difficult to acquire early on
  • The difficulty of current trait acquisition will push players to buy the manuals, which makes this a much larger gold sink than it had been before the feature patch
  • Characters created after the patch have to unlock every trait or buy traits manuals from profession trainers

For a more detailed analysis of the new trait system, please read these two posts of Under the Pale Tree, by Lady Verene.




  • Armor repairs cost nothing
  • PvP players have easier access to unique PvE skins through new reward tiers
  • There are plans to add exclusive item skin unlocks to PvP for incentive purposes
  • The champion train in Frostgorge Sound was dissolved (this isn’t really a clear-cut boon or bust, but many people suspected it’d be gone eventually)
  • Champion bag loot scales with magic find


  • The champion farming train in Queensdale, which many hoped would be dissolved, is still running strong and polluting zone activity
  • Champion loot bag changes devalue loot bags for newer players


I consider myself pretty optimistic when it comes to the progression of Guild Wars 2, and I think this is the first time I’ve felt any real sense of disappointment towards changes to the game. It’s not all bad; I want to make that clear. The wardrobe and the changes to runes and sigils really hit all the right marks for the most part. The megaserver system has a few kinks to work out but is ultimately a good idea.

At the end of the day, I’m left wondering what ArenaNet could do to test the viability of its content on a larger scale. For example, some MMOs I’ve played have benefited from the use of public/private test shards where players can test new features in advance of their release. This would give developers a larger testing group (might I add “free”) to really put the pressure on their systems and help them decide whether a new feature should go live or if it needs more work. Whatever they do, I hope it helps bridge the gap between player expectations and the developer’s goals in the future.

Posted in General Gaming, Guild Wars 2 | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Living World Impressions

I’ve reserved many of my thoughts and feelings (at least publicly) until now for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, we’re at the end of a story arc, which means I think it’s good to take a hard look over the past year before the anticipation for the final chapter puts me in “fanboy mode”, and second, many other better written and faster blog writers often capture my own opinions in their own writing so well that I just end up retweeting what they have to say.

So before Scarlet completely desecrates  [insert anything here], I’d like to give my two cents on a few topics about the content that’s been pushed our way for over a little more than a year.

Let the desecration begin!

1. The “TV Episode” Style of Delivery

On several occasions, multiple ArenaNet Developers have compared the content delivery method of the Living World and its story to the “seasonal” television model. The living world updates were originally spaced about a month apart with about one or two living world teams working them. The number of teams were eventually increased, and the period changed to every two weeks. That’s pretty impressive, as far as MMORPGs go, but with smaller time constraints, I often wonder what effect that’ll have on content quantity and quality.

So far, ArenaNet has had seemingly little trouble getting updates out to its game’s fans though I’ve learned that on occasion, minor bits of background story or features were cut or pushed back when there wasn’t enough time or a certain feature needed more time. Unfortunate, yes, but it makes sense, right? Anyone following the interviews or “collaborative development” threads on the forums also know that updates are being developed around 4 months before their release. As a player, that can seem like a pretty long time, but for developers with timelines and due dates, the struggle is real. Even then, on rare occasion, some feature-breaking bug can still make it past inspection and sometimes the fix doesn’t always work on its first implementation. It can be a hard-knock life, so give your local QA tester a hug.


2. Temporary Content and Permanent Content

One downside about the Living World updates is that much of the introduced content is temporary. Usually this include things like Living Story instances, dungeons, and the much-loved “Bazaar of the Four Winds”. Some of the dungeons, such as the Molten Facility and Aetherblade Retreat, have been re-purposed and re-added by way of the Fractals of the Mists.  Meanwhile, some of the permanent fixtures we’ve seen are annual holidays like Halloween and Wintersday, the addition of the Twilight Assault dungeon in Twilight Arbor (whether it will remain after Scarlet’s demise is another issue), and the Southsun Cove zone. The ruins of the Nightmare Tower and the remaining Toxic Alliance in Kessex as well as the destroyed city of Lion’s Arch are also some of the long-term changes made to pre-existing zones, though its unclear if the Toxic Alliance will stick around Viathan Lake after Scarlet’s been dispatched or if Lion’s Arch will be slowly rebuilt.

Or not…

The way I see it, it’s a catch twenty-two. On one hand, each story chapter vanishes after two-three weeks time, the world evolves from chapter to chapter, and that’s the goal of the Living World.  This cycle is fun to watch, rewarding, and relatively easy to experience for people who have the time to play through every update, but for those who can’t, there’s often a disconnect when they jump into a new update after missing a few “episodes”. So far, ArenaNet has offered some in-game and out-of-game recaps for the Living Story, but little in terms of long-term repeatability. I might add that this general lack of repeatability in Guild Wars 2’s story (with story mode and explorable dungeons being the exception) as a whole is odd considering that the game is the sequel to the first Guild Wars franchise, which allowed players an infinite opportunity to replay its story missions. There were even instanced re-playable content that was accessible through inventory items (Bonus Mission Pack).

I may have played the Ebon Vanguard story-line around five or six times on the same character. Just ’cause.

With any luck, ArenaNet will take this chapter of  success from their first series and attempt to implement it in Guild Wars 2 to promote the longevity of its content.


3. The Characters of the Living Story

I would argue that this is the strongest aspect of the Living World right now, and while I could to continue to shower the writers in glorious praise, I’d rather expound my thoughts on this matter.

A refreshing aspect of the Living Story is that the cast is lined with an arsenal of powerful leading ladies. Ellen Kiel, Rox, Marjory Delaqua, Kasmeer Meade, Taimi, and Scarlet Briar make up most of the cast of main Living Story iconic characters or “biconics” for short. Marjory and Kasmeer are also the second major gay couple in the game preceded by the legendary Caithe and Faolain, showing that, one again, the writers don’t shy away from exploring meaningful relationships regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Each of these characters have their own baggage, and their own defining moments that pushed them to be heroes. In the case of Scarlet Briar, she began as a dangerous, loopy, mega-genius of a villain, but, over time, we learned that her madness was not necessarily her doing, and that something darker and far more powerful drove her actions.

Marjory, Kasmeer, and myself in the shadow of the Tower of Nightmares.

As for the guys, well, there’s Braham Eirsson, who’s yet to make much of an impression. He’s brash, sensitive, adventurous, but he still lives in the shadow of his mother, Eir Stegalkin, a conflict that’s taken a backseat while he skulks around, attempting to help Rox on the various tasks that Rytlock Brimstone sends her to do. Recently, Braham has developed a relationship with Taimi, the physically impaired “progeny prodigy”, as a kind of big brother figure.  Overall, he’s still kind of shallow as a character, something I think that will change as Season 1 of the Living Story comes to an end and Season 2 begins. In addition to Braham, one of my hopes is that Canach, the zealous sylvari chemist and tinkerer makes a debut at some point. He’s expressed a desire to make up for his mistakes in the past, and still wishes justice served on the Consortium. Perhaps there’s major character in him yet.


4. Future Seasons

After Scarlet’s been defeated and the immediate ramifications of her actions have run their course, I’m doubly interested in where the story goes next. Will it be a direct continuation of where Scarlet’s story leaves off or will it be something different?

I’ve often toyed with the idea of continuing the different racial story lines into new territory. In terms of time, two years have passed in Tyria since our characters set out to forge their legends in the face of Zhaitan and Scarlet. What has changed while we’ve been away? Humanity could further explore its own internal corruption, its war with the centaurs, bandits, and perhaps, the remnants of the White Mantle. The charr still have the Flame Legion to deal with as well as Kralkatorrik and the sleepless ghosts of Ascalon. Meanwhile, the asura have the constant threat of the Inquest and the sylvari, the Nightmare Court. In addition, the sylvari personal story implied that there were other trees like “The Pale Tree” that other sylvari were being born from, which could lead into further discovery of their race. The norn are also weary of Jormag, and it may be time for someone to come along and be the chip in Jormag’s tooth.

There’s also a chance that, further down the Living World road, a new race could be introduced, something that ArenaNet has mentioned as a definite possibility for the Living Story or a larger, expansion-like update. At the moment, from what I’ve gathered from the community, the most likely racial candidates to made playable would be the tengu, kodan, and largos. There have also been some muttered desires to play as quaggan, centaurs, hylek, and ogres. Regardless, any addition to the race lineup would be a welcomed chance to explore something new.

Perhaps I’ll save my real “wish list” for a separate post, which could include things like housing, new weapons, new professions, more armor skins and town clothes, and perhaps precursor crafting (oh gods, please).

WTB: Precursor crafting/scavenger hunt. No noob offers!

Those are the main things I wanted to cover. The first year of the Living World has been a risky and difficult experiment for ArenaNet, and I’m not convinced that they’ve truly hit their stride when it comes to the size and scope of the changes made to the world. However, the improvements in story-telling and overall update quality, since the Living World’s fruition, haven’t gone unnoticed, and, with that said, I’m truly excited to see where this next year will take us.

Posted in General Gaming, Guild Wars 2 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Little Golem, Big Dreams


The massive crystal-covered arm slammed against the twisted earth before batting away whole battalions of troops. Their bodies flew, flailing, as a ship’s sails do during a storm. However, with no mast, no champion to rally behind, their bodies were quickly dashed against the ground before their souls departed into the Mists. Destiny’s Edge and the rest of Tyria’s household names were nowhere to be found. Without them, there would only be more destruction. Trying to formulate a new plan, the Pact’s leaders gathered at their forward command center.

Little progress had been made.

One of the them, a blond-haired norn, brought her fist down on the center table. “Spirits, bless me! Is there no one we can turn to? No one we can hire? Will anyone answer our summons?”

Silence followed as the rest of the leaders looked to one another with despair in their eyes. Suddenly, a small service golem hovered through the front opening in the tent. Its gray ovular frame was scratched and battle-weary; the golden trim that wound around its crystal core and body segments was faded and lack luster. Still, it puttered up to the table with a confidence that no non-golem would recognize.


“You-you wish to fight the dragon?” The norn said, her mouth agape.

The circular crystal core flashed rapidly. “Processing…Conclusion: You—are—ignorant—of—my—heroic—deeds. I—am—Hero-o-Tron.”


The golem’s core switched on. It attempted to process its surroundings, but the lighting was inadequate. It could hear the whirring of engines, the turning of machine parts, and voices, many of them. Hoping to investigate, the golem tried to move but with little success. It was boxed-in on all sides. Finally, it cut power to its mobility processes and plopped back on floor of its “jail cell”. It sighed quietly. “I—wonder—what—the—subdirector—is—doing…”

Posted in General Gaming, Guild Wars 2, Writing/Fan-Fiction | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Finders, Keepers


“Just a few more minutes,” said the asura. His bulbous green eyes shimmered from the electricity that circled the scepter in his left hand and coursed out through the fingertips of his right. The energy washed over a small elliptical device with a clip attached to the back. “That Aetherblade pirate should’ve concealed his bioelectric transmitter before going into battle against a superior opponent,” he mused. A wide grin sat proudly on his face.

“A little early to celebrate, isn’t it?” said a deep voice.

The asura’s smile vanished as he felt the cool metal of a pistol’s barrel against the nape of his neck; his shorter hairs suddenly rose in alarm. “Wh-who are you? What do you want? I’ll have you know that I have finder’s research rights!”

“The Ash Legion has need of the device you’re modifying. You’re coming with me,” the voice said again.

“Sid? Is that you?” Luzon said with a small yelp as the charr softly jabbed a second barrel into his back.

Another male charr walked into the tent laboratory. Blackish blue fur covered his body with the exception of two white spots around the muzzle and chest, obscured by the red cloth jerkin he wore over a deep brown leather cuirass. The rest of his armor was blackened leather minus the metal eyepiece strapped over his left eye.

Luzon’s captor grunted in disagreement. “Boss, you said I could handle him!”

“I did say that, Clawspur; I also remember saying that it would be under my guidance. Was I wrong, soldier?”

“No sir, legionnaire, sir.”

“Good. Now leave us,” the new arrival growled; his arm held up the tent flap, allowing his subordinate a quick exit. He let it drop as soon as he and the asura were alone. A grin ran across his muzzle. “You rang?”

“Don’t give me that you blue-furred, skritt-loving, mush-brained, lummox! I was two seconds away from vaporizing my entire lab. Do you know how long it took me to set up camp here, Sidcarr?” Luzon shrieked, dramatically waving his arms around. He stopped to adjust the headband that corralled his patch of spiky brown hair.

The charr, Sidcarr, picked up one of the many devices that sat on a table near the entrance, giving it a good look-over. “Strange that you’d set up lab in Ascalon,” he said before tossing an opened letter on the smaller table in front of the asura.

Luzon puzzled over the torn paper. “I sent this to you so that you could explain—with proper discretion might I add—to your superiors that I was going to be conducting research near the Ashford forum and that I was not to be disturbed. How did you screw tha-?”

Sidcarr did not wait to let his friend finish. “The letter was ‘intercepted’ by one of the Ash Legion’s centurions. She sent my warband to retrieve your research. Your work had her interest.”

“But then why-?” Before Luzon could continue his banter, the charr clapped his paw over his mouth. The asura nearly screamed at Sid’s sudden aggression.

“If you want to keep your research and leave this tent alive, I suggest you shut your blabbing mouth and listen to me,” Sid whispered, releasing asura’s nodding head. “We need to form a plan.”

“Such a simple observation, you dolt! Did you think that when I finally did away with my lab that I was going to die with it? Bah!” Luzon whispered sharply. “I already had a plan with—I will proudly admit—a comfortable degree of uncertainty, but now that you’re involved, you’ve gone and jammed every cog.”

Several moments passed before the charr realized what his friend was getting at. He could let Luzon go, but he’d take full blame for the mission’s failure, regardless if he made it look like there was a struggle. Still, Sidcarr protested. “The rest of these charr are members of my warband. You can’t just blow one of them up and expect me to okay with it.”

“Not my problem. I have my own academic integrity to protect. What would it tell my krewe if I just let every bully take my research? I’d be the subject of every joke from every asura of every college in the entirety of Tyria!” Luzon bellowed as he marched past his captor and exited his tent. Sidcarr made a quick glance at his worktable. The device Luzon had been playing with was gone.

“Luzon, wait!”

“No more waiting! I’m putting an end to this.”

There was a group of four charr a few feet away from the entrance, sitting on a small natural ledge; each of them looked up as the asura stepped into the afternoon sun. Sidcarr followed from a few feet behind.

“What’s this? Did the asura finally surrender?” one of the male charr said, staff across his lap.

He suddenly yelped. The female charr in the group had punched his shoulder. “Buffers and blast-caps, Yahuk! Let the legionnaire speak,” she spat, watching her fellow warband-mate groan over the pain. To their surprise, Sidcarr remained quiet. Their eyes slowly drifted down to the defiant pint-sized figure that stood before them.

Luzon’s balled fists sat firm on his hips as he stared down his competition. They didn’t look very impressive by his standards. “Attention, fuzzbrains! I have a message for you to take back to your sentry, centaur, centennial; what did you call it?” he said, head turning back at Sidcarr.

“The centurion, you whelp,” Yahuk grumbled.

Luzon simply brushed off the jab, “It’s not important. I only require that you all to report to this leader of yours and tell them I wasn’t here.” His request was met with a fit of obnoxious laughter; however, this did not anger the asura. The pointy-toothed grin that spread across his face was the biggest of them all. “Laugh all you want, it’s about to be your only option.”

With a quick flash of lightning, Luzon vanished. Leaving nothing but his tent and a small scorch mark where he had been standing. The charr quickly scrambled to their feet but not for long. The asura’s lab burst into flame.

They immediately took cover for fear of an explosion. Clawspur and Sidcarr sat together behind a large rock, still able to feel the heat of the blazing tent remains. The thick haze of smoke hardly bothered them aside from a few pairs of watery eyes. “That little puke was ready for us, wasn’t he?” Clawspur whispered to his legionnaire.

Sidcarr shook his head; a slow chuckle emerged from his fang-filled muzzle. “No, soldier. This is ‘standard asuran procedure’.”


Posted in General Gaming, Guild Wars 2, Writing/Fan-Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celestial Guidance

Author’s Note: I was bothered that very little of the Dragon Bash Festival resembled the old Dragon Festival in the original Guild Wars (the jade dragon weapon skins were about the only, but they’re pretty difficult to acquire), so I wrote a story to get over whatever nostalgic feelings I had. After all, I do enjoy a fast-paced game of “Dragon Ball“.

“And you just let this happen?” the young woman said, pushing a few stray strands of long black hair away from her eyes. She was garbed in an ornate black dress with green accents and silver embroidery and buckles; a cowl of raven feathers hugged at her shoulders.

The recipient of her anger sat at a large wooden table, he wore long robes colored similar to the young lady’s. His own shoulder-length black hair curtained the sides of his head, straight as a newly forged Seraph’s sword. They were in the back of a tavern. “I am afraid I was outnumbered in the vote,” he said, watching as she probed his expression.

“What say do ‘they’ have in our practices?”

“Do you think this decision has left me unhurt, Jie? You know as I do that our families worked hard to gain the repute and respect of Lion’s Arch and Divinity’s Reach,” he paused to take a sip of his ale. “However, the wounds left by the dragons are deeper, deeper than any of our ancestral ties; Lion’s Arch needs this.”

Jie folded her arms, focusing her scowl. “So, you expect me to stand by and watch as every norn, asura, and charr spits on my beliefs?”

“Not at all, few other races are even aware of Canthan tradition outside of the tengu and even then, I wouldn’t expect much.”

Jie let out a short smug laugh. “Of course, I’ll go celebrate with the tengu. Perhaps they’ll invite me into their city and we’ll all share a flask of firewater as we laugh about the various times that our nations slaughtered each other.”

“Surely, your colleagues at the Durmand Priory would celebrate with you? Your reverence to the celestials would be a fascinating study for those dusty-headed bookworms,” he said with a smile, reaching for his mug again.

With a slow turn, Jie motioned for the charcoal skinned sylvari standing nearby to follow. She was leaving.

The Canthan man called to her back. “Try not to stir up any trouble, friend. There was an accident during the effigy lighting ceremony, so, while you have my sympathies, Captain Magnus will not be as patient.”

Jie stopped at the bottom of a short staircase. “Thank you for your time, Captain Luen,” she said before walking out into the warm oceanic breeze. The tavern was actually a large galleon that had been flipped and rigged up to sit against tall cliffs that divided the Agora from the city’s Eastern Ward. A large wooden scaffold staircase was the tavern’s only entrance, at least, the only one Jie knew of.

She addressed the sylvari. “What do you think, Veraim? Am I being selfish?”

The orange leaves in his head branches fluttered on a brief wind as he turned to face her. The sylvari’s light blue eyes met hers before he looked away. “Does it matter what I think, Jie? You did say this was a purely Canthan affair,” he said with an air of melancholy.

“So you don’t agree with me?”

Veraim sighed and tried to clarify. “You are mistaken, friend. You stated that the other races should have no say in the rituals of your people. I agree, therefore, I will not comment.”

“You’re exempt,” she retorted.


Jie grabbed hold of one of the sylvari’s hands. They were ridged along the knuckles but his palms were smooth and cool to the touch. She told him it was because they were friends.

“So you trust my word as a friend, but not as a sylvari?” he asked, a little insulted.

“There are none of your kind on the Captain’s Council, Veraim. I would like a sylvari’s opinion,” Jie quickly returned, hoping to amend her previous statement in the bar. Veraimitheyrn, ‘Veraim’ she called him, had been one of her closest companions since she’d left Divinity’s Reach to fight dragons; the last thing she wanted was to upset him.

“I can’t say, Jie,” he finally said, letting his hand slip from hers. Maybe if I knew more about these traditions of yours, but I don’t. Sorry.”

Jie hugged her arms across her chest as a cool breeze brushed past the scaffolding. “No…no, you’re right. I was in the wrong.” She’d begun to descend the stairway when the sylvari asked if she wanted company. She shook her head and continued down alone. Evenings in Lion’s Arch, were often as lively as the city in the day, perhaps more so during a festival. A few children scampered past her with sparkler sticks, laughing as they weaved through the small-clustered crowds. The main trade hub was aglow under the web of lanterns strewn across the catwalks and galleons that arched overhead; that all faded at her back as she strolled into western part of the city.

As Jie passed the Durmand Priory excavation site, she spotted a small crowd that had formed just off the worn path; the scent of death was in the air. She approached the scene with caution watching as two humans broke through the mass of onlookers. The victim was an ogre; its deep copper-toned skin partially glistened with blood. One of the two humans blocked her advance.

“Pardon me, miss, but you’ll-.”

“Archie? Is that you?” she said.

The man raised the torch in his right hand up to eye level, forcing Jie’s eyes to adjust slightly to the sudden glow of the fire. “Cousin Jie! This is a surprise; I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Is there something wrong, Archaes?” A smooth woman’s voice called from behind. The stranger stepped into the light of the torch, a short smug smile graced Jie’s eyes; it looked familiar.

“Jie Tian. It’s been a long time since our days as necromancy students in DR.”

Marjory!” Jie’s face lit up. “Last I heard, you were a Ministry soldier.”

“Private investigator these days, my dear,” Marjory quickly clarified. “The old job was a little more trouble than it was worth, but then, from what I’ve heard, you and your cousin have first-hand experience with the Ministry’s corruption,” Her smile broadened as the two of them made quick glances at each other, “but that’s not why your cousin and I are here.”

Archaes crouched over the ogre’s horned head. “I’m aiding Marjory in her investigation.”

“Is this connected to the disturbance from yesterday? Captain Luen mentioned it before I left his company earlier,” Jie asked, looking at both of them for an answer.
Marjory spoke as she held an odd octagonal device over the body, moving it ever so slightly. “I’m afraid so; this ogre, as I was told, was one of the representatives from the effigy lighting ceremony and a possible suspect.”

“How ghastly,” Jie mumbled, her expression saddened, “who would do such a thing?”

“Well, the detective isn’t certain, but I’m willing to bet it was whoever attacked the crowds at the ceremony; they killed one of the captains,” Archaes said, pausing to look up at his cousin. He also held a device, same as Marjory’s. “Theo Ashford is dead.”


The detective rose from the body. “Archaes, if you and Jie would like to finish this conversation in a more discreet location, I can finish here. You remember your next destinations, yes? ”

“I do. I’ll return to Lion’s Arch as soon as I find the others,” he said, offering Jie an arm to hold.

The west beach was dark, even with the light of the moon and the city’s constant hologram and firework display. The spectacle reflected on the water, distorted by the ripples that had journeyed in from the Sea of Sorrows. They were the only voices around to be heard, rambling on about their lives from the time they had left Orr behind, after Zhaitan’s defeat, until now. As they passed by the torch-lit statue of Cobiah Marriner, they offered him a few smiles and respects even though he was unable to return a gesture. Finally, the two of them sat on a large piece of driftwood in the cool sand, kicked off their shoes, and let the warm sand seep between their toes. Jie spoke about her earlier dispute with Captain Luen, how defeated she felt.

Archaes faced his cousin. Small tufts of his golden blonde hair rode up on his head like ships sails in the wind. “You know, it’s been a long time since I studied Canthan history in school. Maybe you could given me a lesson.”

Jie let out a haughty laugh. “Please, Archie, I may miss the old festivals, but I hardly need your pity.”

He placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Jie, don’t pretend this isn’t important to you,” he said. There was no smile, no pause, and no laughter afterwards; it took a minute for her to believe he was serious.

She admired the starry sky, searching for a sign, a story to tell. Perhaps it was a particular stellar formation, or the distant roar of the giant holographic dragon gliding above the city. Regardless, she spoke. “Long ago, there was an empress by the name of Tahmu, who was known for her kind spirit and generosity.”

Posted in Guild Wars 2, Writing/Fan-Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lucky Number 8

Time sure flies. It’s already Guild Wars’s 8th Anniversary. To put this event in perspective, I first noticed the game in August of 2005; my brother was playing it on his own computer. Of course, I begged him to let me make a character and try it. I made a monk/elementalist (a decision that I forever regretted) and fell in love with the idyllic virtual countryside of Ascalon. 


Then, everything changed when the Flame Legion attacked. 

I eventually got my own copy of the game a few months later on my 16th birthday and was hooked since. Over the years, I made numerous friends in-game or in the broader fan community and have even met with a good dozen or so of them in real life. I can’t think of a series of games I’ve had a more positive experience with in terms of community. Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, Eye of the North; these were my gateways into the MMO genre and culture (though Guild Wars wasn’t exactly an MMO itself), something that I’m still heavily invested in, even today. I see a lot of potential for this genre in the future and I feel the need to be a part of that progression. Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 have both shown how the traditional standards of a game genre can be shaken up and redefined. 


ArenaNet has also demonstrated that reiteration is key to improving the game, even if it means admitting to mistakes, design flaws, and wonky mechanics (something I highly respect them for) while they work to improve upon their content and its implementation with each future update. Of course, there’s still much to do, systems to fix, bugs to hammer out, *coughtengutoaddcough*, etc. 

Lastly, it can’t go without saying that my confidence in ArenaNet’s work is due, in no small part, to its staff, whether they’re still with the game or not. I’ve made some pretty amazing friends and acquaintances among them. It’s often easy to forget that these companies are made up of people and not robots (maybe a few androids, but no robots) so I find that having these talented people to talk to really keeps my perspective, diverse, and my opinions, honest.


Love you guys. Here’s hoping Guild Wars makes into to #10. ^^

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Shattered (Pt 2)

Author’s Note: In case anyone was curious, Archaes’s name is pronounced as such: Archaes (ar-KAY-es), and the captain’s is Elise (el-LIS).


Ebonhawke: 1320 AE

Violet eyes glow

An ancient mountain range stirs

Corruption begins



 Archaes bolted awake, his eyes opened wide. Nightmares were not a rare occurrence for the soldiers of the Ebon Vanguard especially when their enemies, the charr, a race of large, feline-like beasts, had been at war with humanity for over a thousand years, a bloody legacy that had scarred generations after generations of humans and charr alike.

He pinched his worn fingers where his brow met the bridge of his nose. “That was a new one,” he said to himself while sitting in bed, spending the first few minutes of his day trying to decipher what his nightmare was and what it meant. The image, vivid as it was, had made no sense. The young soldier made a casual scan of the room like he did every morning, taking in his gloomy surroundings. His quarters consisted of two rooms, the living area, and a bathroom; both only lit with oil lamps, no windows. The bed was against the back wall, opposite of the exit door, and the dresser. Several of Archaes’s most valued possessions sat on the dresser. There was a small cluster of opened letters. Some had “Karin” written on the front; those were from his mother. The others were from his older sister, Deborah, and his childhood friend, Petra. He wrote back to each of them a few times over the years, but it did little to remedy how much he missed Divinity’s Reach. His eyes wandered over to his father’s sword, its hilt wrapped with part of a linen scarf that formed a knot at the pommel. Archaes’s mother had given him that accessory before he’d left home. He stared at it, transfixed on its ornate details; smiling, knowing that many charr had fallen to both his father as well as himself. Each and every charr deserved worse than the quick death he gave them. It was something he constantly told himself. The weapon’s history was soaked in charr blood, and it was the only relic brought back to his family when the soldiers brought news of his father’s untimely death.

Sliding out from under his covers, Archaes lumbered his half-naked body over to the dresser, pulling out articles of clothing to wear and tossing them on the bed. He was built sturdy. At a little less than six and a half feet, Archaes stood at the taller end of humanity. He had a few scars on his arms and legs but nothing on the face. Not many of the soldiers had scarred faces and there was a reason. If a charr got close enough to their heads, then they would do more than leave a simple scratch.

The noise outside the door had already told him it was morning, and because of that, his commanding officer could be along at any moment to give him his assignment for the day.

There was a knock at the door. Right on cue.

“Hold a minute, I’m almost dressed,” Archaes said while slipping into his basic attire. The young soldier did his best to flatten the golden brown mess that was his hair as he made his way to the room’s only exit. He pulled down the handle, it wouldn’t budge. “Captain, please, this is unprofessional. Release the handle.”

Archaes’s demand was met by dry laughter from the other side of the door. “So is waiting for you to get ready each morning. For a second I thought you might’ve tripped over a chair and knocked yourself unconscious.”

The door swung open this time, and Archaes welcomed his superior into the room. Captain Elise removed her helmet and placed it on the small wooden table near the door while shutting it. She was not much older than Archaes, later twenties, her auburn hair rolled back in a tight bun so the helmet would fit right. The captain was also a bit shorter but he knew better than to tease her for it. The two had developed an odd flirting routine the past year or so and still, nothing came of it.

Elise spoke first. “I take it you haven’t received the big news of the day?”

Archaes, pinching his brow again, met her response. He was still groggy.

She smiled. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.” There was a pause as she gathered her composure. “Queen Jennah is visiting Ebonhawke, today,” her words smacked her subordinate like a left hook from an asuran Mark II Golem.

Awed, Archaes spoke. “The Queen, here? T-t-today?!”. Jennah, the figurehead and pillar of his people, had secured Ebonhawke a new asura gate since the old one had fallen into disrepair. Rumor had it the guild “Destiny’s Edge” had been involved in procuring the new one. He knew that much, but the part about her coming to christen it herself must have fallen off the map.

“I’m no Krytan, Archaes. The Queen has earned my respect for her support of what we do out here, but I’m not particularly fond of having to ‘kiss her foot’ at the ceremony,” Elise said casually, prying at him for any sort of reaction. Archaes’s eyes drifted off a little; he was trying to imagine what a kiss from the Queen would be like.

A childish smile spread across his face. “I can think of better places to kiss her than the foot.”

“I’ll be sure to tell her that, and then you and every other rubber-jawed knight-in-shining-armor who fawn over her can fight to the death,” the captain jabbed at him; his face turned a little red.

“To be honest, Captain, I’ve never even seen the Queen before; today will be my first time.” Archaes watched Elise bite her lower lip. She only did that when she had regrets, something he had picked up about her not long after they met.

Her fingers were pushing loose strands of hair out of her face. “About that…”

He smiled and leaned back in his chair. “You put me on scouting duty today, didn’t you?” A sigh of defeat rising from his chest, it was as he figured.

“Sorry,” Elise said, “I had you down for this assignment days ago, if I had known tha-.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Archaes interrupted, “I’ll see her one day, most likely when I get my medal of honor for service to the Ebon Vanguard; she’ll be the one to pin it on my tabard.”

He grinned widely again as Elise punched him in the arm. “You rotten, no good, ogre’s left foot! You’re definitely going on scouting duty now, no excuses,” she shouted as she made for the exit. Archaes watched her pick the helmet off the table and open the door.

She paused. “Go to the mess now if want to get some food down before you leave, you’ll be heading out with your pair in two hours, a bit more if they dilly dally.” She said, only getting a nod in reply. “Oh, and Archaes?”


The captain slipped the helmet back over her head. “Try not to do anything reckless today. It’s scouting detail, avoid any unnecessary confrontation.”

Archaes sighed. “Of course, Captain.”

A moment of silence passed before the captain exited Archaes’s quarters, leaving him to his thoughts once again. “The Queen, here? That’s a bit out of the ordinary isn’t it?” He could not deduce why the delivering a new asura gate merited a visit from the Queen herself, not to mention her fanfare of Seraph, and Shining Blade guards. The best reason he could think of was to improve diplomatic relations with the people of Ebonhawke. Still, the possible risks were numerous. Security would have to be extra tight. Not everyone in Ebonhawke welcomed the Queen’s generosity with open arms. The more involved Kryta became, the bigger presence they would have. Ascalon and Kryta had fought each other in the distant past, during the Guild Wars. For some reason, Archaes thought, there was always some mistrust between their people. He had fought alongside the Ascalonians for years, hell; his ancestor was an Ascalonian hero. With the exception of Captain Elise and a few others, he often regarded as an outsider.

Posted in Guild Wars 2, Writing/Fan-Fiction | Tagged , | 1 Comment