Daily Log-in Rewards and Other Psychological Manipulations in Modern Games

I don’t want to play Guild Wars 2 every day. I like the game, I just don’t want to play it every day. But if I don’t play it every day, I miss out of collecting a whack of useful free stuff as well as earning 2 Gold Coins for doing fairly easy stuff that I generally enjoy doing. But…

I don’t want to play the game every day!

You see, publishers and game developers know that people don’t want to play their games all the time. Similarly, they know that people would be content to never spend any money on their games too if that was possible. And it used to be that this was OK with developers and publishers, with the lot of them generally being content to make and sell games as one would make and sell any other product. But that’s just not the case anymore, as Ryan Cooper explains quite adeptly in this article from about a year ago. It’s a great article that I can’t really add much more to, so I suggest you take a moment to read it, then come back here for further context.

In short, game developers and publishers are employing trained psychologists with the express intent to create systems in their games that manipulate people into spending their time and money on their games. I think that’s a really shitty thing to do. But then, I am a reasonable person who doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to take advantage of others in general.

Anyway, as much as I like Guild Wars 2, both as a game to play and as an example of the kind of amazing games that can be created with today’s technology, there are some things about how ArenaNet conducts business that I disagree with. As such, I am going to go ahead and make a list of those things here. Am I “naming and shaming”? Yeah, yeah I am.

  1. Tax Evasion: Like so many companies, ArenaNet avoids paying state and federal taxes in the USA on their sales through their gem store by having those sales take place using a company based in Ireland. People who choose to avoid paying the taxes they’re supposed to are choosing to hurt every single person who would benefit from those tax dollars. Roads, bridges, hospitals, sewers, armies, scientific studies, disaster relief… pay your fucking fair share of taxes! Do I have proof that ArenaNet is doing this just to avoid paying taxes? No, but why else would their payments be taken by Digital River of Ireland? Same reason all those other companies are doing business there too – to avoid paying taxes…
  2. Creating false scarcity of items by not having them available for purchase at all times. Want to buy a specific cosmetic item? Well too bad, it’s not available right now – better log in every day to check for it! 😐
  3. Including an ugly version of an item with the product to encourage the purchase of a replacement. I first saw this tactic with in Everquest II with the armor one could obtain through questing after Sony Online Entertainment made EQ2 free to play. Gliders are the worst (and most woefully obvious…) instance of this behavior in Guild Wars 2.
  4. Offering progressively better rewards for logging in daily, some of which can only be reliably obtained by doing so, without providing a way to make up for days missed through alternative game play. They do this to make playing the game habitual, diminishing one’s choice to use their product or not.
  5. Allowing a small number of players to dramatically alter the prices of rare crafting components on the Trading Post, because the higher prices ultimately encourage many players to buy Gems with real money and convert the Gems to gold, as it becomes more difficult to earn the required gold through normal game play. “Tin foil hat”, you say? ArenaNet data-mines the crap out of their games; They know exactly what’s going on and they don’t stop or mitigate the toxic behaviour, because it benefits them.
  6. Purposely creating reams of useless items to encourage players to buy more bag and bank space. One can apply this sentiment (of creating an arbitrary limitation and then intentionally stressing that limitation) to various other areas of the game as well. Many “free to play” games do this, but in Guild Wars 2 it is applicable to people who have purchased the full version of the game (as well as its two expansion packs).
  7. “Loot Boxes”: Lucky number seven is ArenaNet’s long history of making desirable items available exclusively through means that are subject to random chance and that can be purchased using real money. It doesn’t matter if the player “always gets something” when what they get isn’t the thing they wanted and all they can do about it is, keep spending money until they either get what they want or they “go broke trying”. The concept is so abusive that it has become illegal in some countries, when it ‘s used in mediums frequented by children (such as online games).

OK you caught me, that first point doesn’t have anything to do with how game publishers/developers are manipulating players, but it sure pisses me off. It’s an underhanded tactic that is worth mentioning, because it undermines the “public good” by reducing the resources available to provide public services. Every year the average person pays more in taxes and gets less for it, while some (including many of the largest corporations) shirk their responsibilities, taking the benefits of taxes without paying their fair share. Fuck those people.

I don’t have a problem with in game goals or activities that reset daily, because it’s convenient to have a “ToDo” list in these games that have a large variety of game play systems to take part in. Really, much of what I do in Guild Wars 2 is complete some “dailies”, because often that’s about all the time and effort I wish to put into the game. I also don’t have a problem with companies selling customers items for use in their games. What I do have a problem with is the manipulation: I don’t like how they knowingly get under one’s skin and plant the, “you’re missing out on something if you don’t play” thoughts; I disapprove of how they rig their systems to pressure players to spend money to make their game less cumbersome/annoying/ugly; I find it distasteful that they perpetrate these misdeeds just to make more money from their players. It’s extra especially despicable when the player must purchase the game and/or pay a monthly subscription while still being subject to these manipulations.

Anyway, when I fire up BurgerTime on my Commodore 64 and play it for a bit, I know that I can just turn it off and come back to it whenever I’d like. It doesn’t demand any investment of my time or even my thoughts beyond when I choose to sit down and play it. Indeed, BurgerTime, like so many other games made in years past, was a game that was created for one simple reason: to be a fun game!

For good and for bad, many modern computer games are complex masterpieces of computer science and digital artwork that are intertwined with an unhealthy smattering of psychological manipulation and unsavoury business ethics. May I suggest that it does not need to be this way; Games can… just be games.


Disclosure: I have absolutely no affiliation with Ryan Cooper or theweek.com; His article was mentioned and linked here (without permission/discussion), because I read it and I felt it was relevant and helpful.

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The D. Murphy Chronicles: Discovering the Lionguard

80 Scion 1331 AE

I encounter a spider cave after fleeing centaurs in the Heartwoods. That cave wasn’t best place to hide, but at least I inadvertently solved a spider infestation in the Township of Claypool! Lots to do in that little village. The militia stationed there requested I bring them a kask of ale from the Monks at the Krytan Freeholds. Having never been there before, I made an uneventful journey to the Freeholds by following the roads. On my way back I attempted to save time by riding cross country, but after being chased by Ettin and a very angry Treant, I’m not sure how much time I really saved. So many grumpy folks in this world! Anyway, the militia in Claypool were happy to get their ale and I earned a weeks wages for my trouble!

While resting in Claypool, I heard about a hunting lodge that had a problem with a wild bore, so I sought it out in the hope that I could hone my hunting skills. Unfortunately when I arrived I found that the job was already done by a group of adventures. I did get to help set some traps, until I crested a hill and my heart sank. Seeing the Shire of Beetletun on the far side of the valley below put a knot in the pit of my stomach… I camped out the night with some hunters in the Queen’s forest and made my way back to the Reach in the morning.

I brought Mrs. Hemmingsworth some fresh picked flowers and she traded me a hot meal for a smile and bit of raw bore meat. Later I headed into the city to see Gulvar. He wasn’t surprised to see me, but I could I tell he knew something I didn’t. He told me there was an armorsmith who could refurbish his armor, but it would take quite some time. I wasn’t sure if I could afford to get a replacement suit of armor, but I went to see the armorsmith at Gulvar’s insistence. There I made a contract to use their gear, both armor and weapons, at a discount provided that I tell folks about their shop while I am on my adventures. Not a bad deal considering they supply gear to the Black Lion Trading company too! Fixing Gulivar’s old suit will be expensive though, but I only had to pay half up front to leave it in their care.

Late that afternoon, as I sat on a side street wondering where to go from there, a dusty flyer for the carnival whisked up onto my leg. Wouldn’t you know it, the flyer indicated that Carnie Jeb and the gang were in Beetletun this week – not far away at all! After what the White Mantle did to my friend in there though… I’m honestly afraid to step foot in the village. But, I figured that if Jeb is there, then there must be money to be made and it was probably safe. I rented a room for the night in the Reach and set out for Beetletun in the early morning.

The carnival wasn’t hard to find, with its loud music and hollering drunkards. Speaking of hollering, Jeb wasn’t hard to find either – always sparing with someone! How he manages to remain both boastful and upbeat after countless defeats is anyone’s guess, but I think it makes him feel good to let average folks “beat the strong-man”. It was great to see Jeb. We tried sparring like the old days, but we kept being interrupted by a seemingly unlimited supply of adventurers! Ah well, at least Beetletun did prove to be a safe little town now. In fact, I helped solve some of its biggest problems by aiding some children with an infestation of bees and getting my hands dirty by removing some White Mantle graffiti from an elderly lady’s house. It was a good experience!

It was over ale with Jeb that I remembered the brewery monks had told me they would be in need of an escort through the swamp to make a delivery to a Lionguard outpost. Ever boisterous, Jeb pushed me out the door of the tavern and told me I had best “get to work, ya heathen!”, so off I went in the dark to the Krytan Freeholds. I arrived too late to make the escort (days apparently), but I was able to strap a keg to Misty and make a special delivery myself the next day. What a strange ride that was…

I left at the monastery near mid day, but after entering the swamp it was dark as night. I kept to the board walk and ignored the lights I saw in the mists until I heard a shrill scream. I’ve seen a lot in my time, but that sent chills through me something fierce… Still, Misty and I carried on down the boardwalk. Sharply the screams turned to moaning wails and persisted… Followed… At one point I looked to my right and saw a ghost, sad and alone not far off in the water. I had never seen a ghost before, only heard the stories of the Foefire… The ghost was weeping, the shadow of a man on his knees in the mud. Misty let out a huff as if to tell me to get off and speak with him, so I did. Listening to his tale lead me to freeing him and many other ghosts from the shadows that haunted them, using a spirituality I wasn’t aware was within until that encounter. Amazing… I fought shadows and horrors with light magic and I wasn’t afraid!

The swamp was quiet. I completed my delivery and met the nicest Lionguard captain. The Lionguard seem like a noble group of people from many races and walks of life – happy to put themselves in harms way to keep the trade routes open, safe. They seemed equally impressed by my steed, Misty, enough so that the captain asked if I could take some messages to their outposts far off in Caledon forest. I was apprehensive about leaving Queensdale for the first time, but life really was playing out for me just like Gulvar said it might: There I was out in the world meeting people and opportunity at every turn. So, I took the job! After supper I am heading off to visit all the Black Lion forts in the Caledon forest, delivering private mail and picking up any to bring back to Queensdale. What an adventure this will be!

– Dwayne Murphy


Levels 10 – 15

I think of the problems that I have noticed while levelling thus far, the only one of any importance really is that is hard to create your own narrative in the game. There are many interesting characters to meet throughout the game and you’re free to imagine anything you’d like about most of them, because there story isn’t told beyond that moment in which they are locked in time on the map where you can interact with them. However, they can’t join you on adventures, so you’re basically left playing the game with “imaginary friends”, making up an imaginary story along the way if you happen to wish to include any of these characters in your journey through the levels. Short of making a handful of roleplaying friends who you can call upon to play roles for you, it’s just you travelling the world all alone. And I am finding it difficult to both play the game and make a story told in first person journal entries that is more than simply a synopsis of the quests and events I encountered.

Maybe that is a good thing, telling the story that is actually in the game, because then other people would know that they too could have a similar experience as my own. I don’t know…

Anyway, game play wise it is obvious that the system which scales down the character isn’t perfect. Even in white gear with basic vitality/toughness runes, I was essentially invincible to non-critical direct damage from one or two NPCs. Of course that wasn’t true for condition damage, but it did mean that most of the content was no longer challenging. Apart from that, it really is funny how much of a focus there is on killing other sentient beings in the game. Like seriously, there is so much you can’t do if you choose not to kill sentient beings!

“Joining the Lionguard” as a role-play (which you will read more about later) was actually really cool, but it was difficult to translate my imagination into the practical playing of the game. However, I think if a person really took the time to research all of the content in the game related to the Lionguard, it would be possible to level throughout the game world as a Lionguard by “taking new assignments” at progressively higher level outposts. And then once you’ve reached level 80, you could decide where you’d like the character to be stationed out of all of the available locations. Some would say that is a waste of a character, but I think it would actually be a way to add more “character” to one’s character! It’s really too bad that there isn’t even a simple system to facilitate this sort affiliation, beyond our limited choices in the linear “personal story” that was included with the game. That’s not to say that I don’t like the personal story, it’s that once you’ve done it on a character, it will be pretty well the same story on all the rest of your characters too. It would have been nice if they had a system that was modular, where maybe you have UI that allows you to drag and drop events and associations that your character will encounter as they move through their story. They could have standard and random layouts, as well as layouts created manually by the player. Perhaps they could even have events, characters, companions, and faction associations that could be unlocked for use on new characters. I dunno, I think that would have a lot more replay value than what is in the game now and it would have allowed people like me to make characters like Dwayne be a real part of the Lionguard in the game itself, rather than just in my imagination.

The D. Murphy Chronicles: The Dawn of a New Dwayne

63 Scion 1331 AE

Out of the pan, into the fire, they say. It wasn’t but a moment after I stepped through the gates of Divinity’s Reach when I heard the screams of villagers down the hill. My eyes hadn’t even fully adjusted to the blaring sun beyond the city walls… “Well, no time like the present to put Gulivar’s gear to the test!”, I thought to myself before charging headlong down the hill to investigate the commotion. Along the way I had a chuckle, remembering the silly old man’s stories and his insistence that he owes his life to my act of kindness. The truth is… he saved me and I can’t help but feel that now it’s time for me to live up to my own potential. In a way, to carry on Gulivar’s story by living the life he passed on to me…

It was about that moment when my train of thought was derailed by the thunder of hooves to my left. I turned, expecting to see the Seraph charging on horseback, but instead I was abruptly tackled to the ground by Mrs. Hemmingsworth, the Baker’s wife. Lovely lady, built like a four ox cart , with a demeanor as sweet as pie, unless she’s crossed. Turns out a band of Centaur had decided to raid the village and she wasn’t going to have any of that nonesense. Bravely and without a second thought, she had taken to the street with her trusty cast iron frying pan, wearing a look so stern as to cower even the most brash of adventurers. After rescuing my fool self from what most surely would have been a life threatening trampling, she dusted her self off, smiled, and charged on around the corner with a guttural roar. What an inspiration!

Now I have no misgivings with the Centaur, or any other free peoples, but I definitely don’t take kindly to violence. “Surely a peaceful arrangement could be made?”, I thought as I adjusted my ill-fitting armor and made my way further into the fray. I’m no pacifistic, but… but after taking Jordan’s life to save Gulivar from the evil that overcome my old friend, I… I can’t! Every life is a gift, a gift that is not mine to revoke, and by Dwayna’s light, I will fight to bring peace without becoming the very evil I wish was not part of this beautiful world. So when I reached the inn and spoke with Sergeant Walters, I offered to help defend the garrison in the hopes that I could help administrate a diplomatic solution to the crisis. I did have pretty good luck handling disputes between the other waifs in The Reach.

Long story short? I should have brought Mrs. Hemmingsworth with me, for either her hefty shoulder or her terror inducing display of frying pan swashbucklery. That Centaur Captain didn’t so much as flinch as he trampled over me when I attempted to parlay with him on the bridge to the keep. Shortly after I came to, I decided it would be a good time to put on the wacky helmet that Gulivar so kindly gave me. Unfortunately, the dutiful Seraph who revived me pointed down into muck below the bridge and smiled, eyebrows raised. No helmet it was! Throwing caution to the wind, and boy was it windy, I rushed toward a conjured monstrosity which looked like it was making to hurl a farm’s worth of machinery at the keep. Yup, two giant magical hands had sprung from the earth in the time I laid face down on the bridge. Finally, something I could smack with my new (old… very, very old…) mace!

“Something… something.. explode!”, and a bright flash of light is all I remember after that. Waking up in respite a few days later was a humbling experience to say the least, but I learned some valuable lessons. Firstly, helmets are good – wear the helmet! Secondly, there’s a world of opportunity beyond the walls of the great city – I should have left years ago! Why did I spend my youth and indeed, much of my early life, unaware that there was more than living day to day off scraps? People need help, they want help, and not only are they willing to pay for my hard work, they’ll thank me for my time! When Gulivar told me of his adventures that brought him from Elona to my dusty alley, I really didn’t believe him, because it all seemed so detached from my own experiences. But, now I see that all I needed was an opportunity and just a few resources to find a direction, a start…

– Dwayne Murphy


About Levels 1 – 10

Wow, is the “murder hobo” thing ever true about MMOs! When you’re actively trying not to damage, let alone kill, humaniod NPCs it’s a little shocking to watch other players bounce around gleefully murdering everyone in sight. What else becomes quickly obvious is that games such as Guild Wars 2, are designed with indiscriminate killing in mind. And I guess that’s fine, disturbing as it may be as a general concept, because they are games after all. In any case, by the time I reached level 9 I realized that no amount of stealthy or smart play will allow me to achieve “map completion” without having to murder a few dozen people along the way. Given that goes against spirit of the challenge (and Dwayne’s morals), I modified some of the post-level-80 goals so that I can reach them without having to make any exceptions.

Mr. Murphy is all setup with some extra bags I had kicking around and access to the following list of items that were “given to him by his old-man friend” Gulivar: A magic carpet, a suit of old armor, a worn out mace, a spectral glider, and a magical token which summons a freakin’ mystical jackal that is trained to be a mount! And if that wasn’t enough, Gulivar even gave him 20 gold worth of coins, along with a mandate to go out and live a life that would rival his own astounding story. For me, the player, that essentially means wandering the world trying explore as much as possible without getting into too much trouble along the way.

So far it has been pretty easy to complete hearts (quests) in Queensdale, though I did have the be sneaky when destroying Centuar supplies, because the Centaurs seemed to very much insist upon standing within the swing of my weapon. I’m pretty sure that is going to be the biggest difficulty with this challenge, because, as I said, the game seems to be designed with the assumption that folks will just kill anything that moves. Indeed, there are account wide achievements for doing that very thing!

And that brings me to my other important observation: One of the most awesome aspects of GW2, how so many things are conveniently account bound rather than character bound, also makes it difficult to track the achievements of a single character. It’s even difficult to set boundaries or limitations for particular characters, such as “only has X gold” or “can do X after completing Y achievement”. I could still set those types of limitations and track them externally from the game (in a book or a text file), but really that’s more work than I want to put into it. I mean, it’s a challenge I’m doing for my own entertainment, so… I think it’s OK for it to be a little lazy.

As of now, I am not sure where Dwayne will lead me. Maybe he’ll make his way to Hoelbrak to see if he can find out what happened to that nice Norn girl he met at a fair when he as a boy. What was her name again? Leona? I guess we’ll find out, won’t we!


The D. Murphy Chronicles (TDMC) is a fan fiction series based upon my adventures in Guild Wars 2, an online role-playing computer game.
Copyright © Semi-Nerdly 2018

The D. Murphy Chronicles: My Guild Wars 2 Challenge

Many years ago now I participated in the Ironman Challenge while playing World of Warcraft, an ongoing player driven event that aims to give the player a new way to experience the game. The idea is to level a character all the way to max level without dying, using only the worst possible (level appropriate) gear. There are some other rules as well, but that’s the jist of it. Personally, I was never able to get a character to level 80 without dying. I was doing really well on a Paladin until our internet cut out and he was killed by the tiger I was fighting at the time.

That was my fouth or fifth attempt and right about the time I decided the perma-death aspect of the challenge probably wasn’t going to work for me. However, I did enjoy the concept of leveling through exploring the dangers of the world (of Warcraft! lol…) thoughtfully and carefully and that’s what brings me to where I am now: challenging myself to not only level a character by sticking to some strict rules to make the process more difficult, but to have those rules be an integral part the character’s personal story. Only, I play Guild Wars 2 now, which is an entirely different game than WoW in many respects, so I had to think hard about how to make an interesting challenge.

Enter Dwayne Murphy, Human Guardian

My main character, a female Sylvari who I created in early 2015 when I decided I needed to give Guild Wars 2 a fair shake after having not played much at all in the 3 years I had owned the game, is a Guardian. I set her up for maximum burning damage, using sword and torch (with a back up septer and shield), and she completely out classes all my other characters in her ability to allow me to faceroll the open world content. I love this character; There is nothing about her that I want to change and I suppose that’s OK, because the game doesn’t make it easy to switch between gear/stat/skill combinations anyway. You’re best bet is to make a new character if you really want to play around with different builds for the classes you already play, so that’s what I did.

I made Dwayne a Human, because I wanted a character that would look good in a suit of heavy armor, but I loathed the voice acting on my original male Sylvari Guardian so much that I deleted him and rolled a female Sylvari instead. Sadly, the male Norm voice acting also bugged me to the point where I used a kit to change my ranger into a female too. Such is the problem with voice acting – when the acting doesn’t jibe with your feeling toward your character (or it just plain annoys you), well you’re shit out of luck, because that’s their voice. Anyway, I didn’t want another female Sylvari or Norn and I can live with the male human voice, despite the super cringy way he frequently yells, “STRAAWWHNNNG!”, so a human male I created! While in the proces of playing with the character creator I stumbled on a look that reminded me of a cross between The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and Eddie Murphy which made me smile and with that, Dwayne Murphy was born!

But What About Those Chronicles?

When I was coming up with the rules I’ll need to adhere to, my ever curious brain insisted on knowing Dwayne’s back story and his motivations so of course I endulged in some late musings on the subject! After expanding upon the general principles offered in the game’s personal story background choices, I thought to myself, “hey… I should totally make a journal of my experiences playing this character, both from my perspective as the player and his perspective as a person in the world of Tyria!”. And so The Chronicles of D. Murphy began!

As I play through the game, on no set schedule, I will create posts here that are broken down into two parts, a story section written in the form of a personal journal entry by Dwayne, followed by some commentary about my own experiences playing the character to that point.

My Rules

Guild Wars 2 is an easy game. It’s full awesome game play systems that truly respect the player’s time, while also going out of its way to ensure that players in the open world benefit rather than hinder each other. Almost every activity grants XP, from picking flowers to completing jumping puzzles, the game throws XP at the player like so much rain. Not only that, but once you’ve played a while on max level characters, you’ll end up with a pile of Tomes of Knowledge that can be used to grant free levels to your characters. And the XP buffs and the exotic gear and the food buffs and… yup, the real challenge here is finding a way to actually challenge one’s self while leveling!

Here is what I came up with…

  • Dwayne’s morality prevents him from killing sentient, living humaniods (excluding undead, risen, and ghosts). This is defined as: Asura, Char, Dwarf, Ettin, Exaulted, Forgotten, Giant, Grawl, Harpy, Hylek, Jotun, Kodan, Krait, Largos, Mursaat, Ogre, Quaggan, Skritt, Tengu Troll, and Treant.
  • Must level to 80 by exploring Core Tyria.
  • No Tomes of Knowledge or Scrolls of Experience.
  • No XP or combat related buffs/food/boosters (gathering/currency related ones are ok).
  • No leveling through crafting, but harvesting is OK.
  • Must use white armor and weapons purchased from Armor and Weaponsmith NPCs every 10 levels. For story purposes (and to actually USE it for something!) I started him in my set of Primal armor, which has level 8ish stats.
  • Trinkets must be blue quality and purchased only from Karma vendors.
  • May only use green Runes and Sigils.
  • May only use blue quality upgrades (jewels, runes, marks, and talisman).
  • Dwayne is afraid of portals and will not use waypoints (with the exception of maps that can’t otherwise be accessed). This includes travelling though The Mists.
  • When defeated, must respawn at the closest village (as though he was brought there to recover by good Samaritans).
  • Outside of the Crystal Desert zones, may only use the jackal mount, spectral glider, and magic carpet.

After reaching level 80, the following must be unlocked in order:

  1. May use all blue (fine) gear and any buffs/food/boosters.
  2. May use all green (master-work) gear and upgrades after discovering all the waypoints and vistas in Central Tyria.
  3. Mmay use all yellow (rare) gear and upgrades after discovering all the points of interest in Central Tyria and becoming a Master Jeweler and a Master Chef.
  4. May wear orange (exotic) gear and upgrades after discovering all the waypoints in the Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire maps.
  5. May where pink (ascended) gear after discovering all the waypoints, vistas, and points of interest in the Living World Season 3 maps.

I think that is a pretty decent set of parameters, given the very open, easy nature of the game and how I normally only participate in the open world content anyway (occasionally I will mash buttons in sPvP for the daily or other rewards). It’s definitely not as challenging as the Ironman Challenge from WoW, but it’s enough to create a game play experience that is unique to this character. I found it difficult to create sensible deterrents/punishments for things like being defeated or accidentally killing a sentient being, because ultimately it either hurts my whole account (by making me poorer if “x event costs x gold”, etc) or it needlessly wastes my time (repent for your sins by doing x activity), so I ended up not making any beyond having to re-spawn at a town. Ultimately, this challenge is something I’m doing for fun and I think what I have put together meets that criteria. Also, after playing up to level 9 I realized that world completion will not be possible for this character, as so much of the game is designed around killing sentient beings! Ah well, I there are other goals I can set.

In the next post I will provide Dwayne’s back story and some notes about setting up the character and playing through the first 10 levels or so. You’ll find them on my Guild Wars 2 page or sorted in the Guild Wars 2 category of the Post Archive page.

Top 25 Things I Love About Guild Wars 2

In honour of the fifth anniversary of the game, and with the new Path of Fire expansion being released later this month, and given how it is the only MMO I still play, I decided to make a five part series about Guild Wars 2. This is not sponsored content (nothing on this site is sponsored), it’s just something I made for the sake of doing so.

That’s right, 25! There’s just so much to love about this game!

Here is a semi-ordered list of many aspects of the game that truly impress me. I have divided the list into three categories to make it easier to see the bigger picture.

General

It’s a beautiful game! The attention to detail and quality of the graphics, sound, and music in this game is exceptional and it stands as the wonderful demonstration of what a company can achieve when they truly care about their product. And for me, this absolutely includes the underwater areas, which I feel are some of the most beautiful places in the game to explore (I even like the underwater combat). There are just so many nooks and crannies, so many details, so much to see, and so much to take part in…

It runs well on my computer. AMD FX-8320, AMD R9 270, 8GB DDR3 RAM, 1600×900 resolution, running from a solid state drive, using our… lovely WiMax internet connection.

No monthly subscription fee.

I can convert gold to gems to buy things from the cash shop, which is nice because the cash shop has a lot of useful items, services, and tools to buy.

There’s practically no down time at all; Very reliable service and I have not encountered any serious bugs that prevented me from having fun.

The wiki is well maintained and there is a plethora of other documentation and tools on the web that cover all aspects of game play.

Game Play

“Action combat” with dodging and optional tabbed targeting is the most fun combat system in any MMO that I have played. It’s not perfect, but it is genuinely fun.

Large open world to explore that has dynamic events, which make it feel alive.

The game “down-levels” players so that their level/power matches the zone that they’re in. This means the whole world is always useful!

Most game mechanics in the open world are set up such that the existence of other players almost always a benefit to me, rather than a hindrance or an annoyance.

The “mega server” tech, combined with the down-levelling, means that there are always other people around to help out, no matter where I happen to be.

The UI style and layout is functional without being intrusive and its style is consistent. It’s not like, say Aion, where the UI works well, but its look and feel don’t really match that of the game world.

The skill bar is functionally identical on all classes, while also being simple and uncluttered. I truly appreciate not having to muck about with tool bars and moving around skills, potions, items, etc.

Seasonal special events, especially Wintersday, are well done and definitely something I look forward to taking part in each year.

The glider is fun and helpful. At first I didn’t think it would be, but I was wrong, because it lift my spirits and is a real blast!

The map and the waypoint travel system is well done – the map looks beautiful and has useful information (such as tracking world completion), while the waypoints allow the player to travel quickly from anywhere, to almost anywhere.

The dailies are varied, sufficiently plentiful, and significantly rewarding, yet still completely optional.

I don’t like the “sandbox vs. theme park” jargon that is commonly used to describe MMOs, because all games have aspects of both. I find that Guild Wars 2 excels at allowing the player to log and do whatever the heck they happen to feel like doing at the time. It’s an open world that has more than its fair of game play systems to entertain the player. Call it what you will, it’s awesome no matter what it’s labelled as.

Quality of Life

Almost everything I do grants XP, so I very rarely feel like I am wasting my time.

I can change my character build whenever I feel like it. This includes equiping different weapons, because each weapon has unique abilities (on a per class basis).

The bank is shared account wide, so all of my characters can easily share items with each other.

There is a special storage area for crafting materials, as well as another storage area for discovered wearables. Conveniently, both of these areas include a list of all possible items that can go into them, which saves having to look that information up online.

Being able to put crafting materials into storage from anywhere is amazing!

Being able to sell items on the Trading Post from anywhere is also pretty darned cool.

Most currencies are account wide and automatically stored in a special tab of the inventory, thus it is not possible to forget to bring them with you. Fellow Star Wars Galaxies players, rejoice! 🙂


And this concludes my five part series of posts in celebration of Guild Wars 2’s fifth anniversary. I hope the posts have been informative and that they help demonstrate that one can have a lot of fun in the game even without getting involved in “end game content” such as raiding, PvP, or crafting legendary gear. It’s a fun and high quality game that is perfect for people who are looking for a casual gaming experience that has room to grow along with them.

Top 5 Things to Buy on the Gem Store in Guild Wars 2

In honour of the fifth anniversary of the game, and with the new Path of Fire expansion being released later this month, and given how it is the only MMO I still play, I decided to make a five part series about Guild Wars 2. This is not sponsored content (nothing on this site is sponsored), it’s just something I made for the sake of doing so.

“How is this NOT an advertisement???”, you demand? Simple, everything in the Gem Store can be purchased with gold that one earned by playing the game! Of course, it’s a lot faster to whip out your wallet and just buy the stuff with real money, but to be honest, a lot of the things in the Gem Store aren’t a good value when compared to what one can purchase in the real world for the same amount of money. Would you rather have a brand new iPod Touch, which you can play hundreds of games on and more, or 16 Shared Inventory Slots, which are only usable in one computer game?

The value of an item is a personal preference, but let’s face it, $40 for a beat up beer cap is probably not a good value no matter how much you love them. With that in mind, here are five things on the Gem Store that I believe are universally valuable.

1. Character Slots!
800 Gems
Far and away, the most valuable thing you can buy is a new character slot. Absolutely nothing else gives you more variety and game play.

With a new character of a race/class that you have not already played, you gain access to a whole new set of abilities, a new personal story, a new personality (mainly voice overs), as well as what is a general virtual dolly to dress up and deck out however you’d like. The permutations of fun are almost endless, so unless you already have more characters than you know what to do with, then you can’t go wrong with picking up another character slot.

If you’re still not convinced, think of it like a wall of switches. When you buy something like a Shared Inventory Slot, that’s like buying a single switch for your wall. Sure, when you flip the switch it fills the room with any number of random colors of light, but lighting the room is its only true function. Now by contrast, when you buy a Character Slot, you’re not just getting a whole wall full of switches to flip, you get a whole damned house full of switches, where most of them do something totally different, so different in fact that it will probably take you weeks to flip’em all just one time.

Of course, characters are fun to play with, but they are also handy to plop in town as a “bank alt” or to leave out in the wild as a static resource node harvester. And probably a whole lot other nifty things too!

2. Account Jump Start (Mostly for the 2 Bank Tabs)
2000 Gems
More storage space that is shared between all of your characters is pretty much a requirement once you have a few characters. The bank fills up quickly! This combo is pretty nice even when you’ve played the game for a long time, because it comes with a significant amount of items that are useful for your account as a whole. 2 Bank Tabs, 2 Bag Slots (one character only), 30 random dyes for gear, 15 Transmutation charges (to change the look of one item into another), and 10 gamble-box keys (that may or may not be useful). The cost of the combo is the same as buying the Bank Tabs and Bag Slots on their own, so you may as well get the free stuff too.

3. A Cosmetic Outfit.
700-1000 Gems
There are four ways to change your character’s appearance in Guild Wars 2. Firstly, you can simply equip different gear. Secondly, you can “transmute” the look of your equipped gear so that it looks like a different piece of gear you have discovered. Thirdly, you can use a tonic or potion to temporarily change your appearance into various other things. And finally, you can toggle on a whole new outfit, most of which are exclusive to the Gem Store.

Outfits are able to be dyed, but only allow the player to toggle on or off the display of the included helmet. Shoulders, boots, and so on will always be displayed. Many of the outfits are very high quality and the chances are high that there will be something in there that you will like.

The best part about outfits is that they are shared account wide and they can be toggled on/off anywhere, at any time, without a cost. A close second, if you ask me, is how outfits allow you to side step the usual class related clothing restrictions – want a caster in full plate? You can do that using an outfit!

4. A Glider.
400-500 Gems
While I hate to reward the asshole tactic that is “giving the players the most ugly version of an item, to entice them to buy something to replace it” (especially in this case, given how expensive the Heart of Thorns expansion was), the reality is that you’ll use the glider all the time and the only way to get a new one is to buy one from the Gem Store. Enjoying the look, feel, and sound of the glider will make you want to use it more often, even when you really don’t need to use it! This will likely remain true even after we’re able to use mounts in Path of Fire.

5. Shared Inventory Slots.
700 Gems
Of all the MMOs I have played, Guild Wars 2 is far and away the one with the most “quality of life” improvements to the general MMO formula. Shared Inventory Slots are one of the more recent QoL additions to the game that are, as they sound, bag slots that are shared between all of your characters. The system is very simple, basically being a bag of X size like any other bag, where X is the amount of slots you have purchased.

Personally, I feel they are too expensive, but when they are on sale they’re not too bad and depending on your play style, they can be worth every copper!

Honourable Mention: Living World Season 2 & 3.
2080 Gems
Since the introduction of the LW S2, ArenaNet has allowed the episodic story content to not only be repeatable, but also accessible at one’s own leisure. Everyone who logged in during the time a chapter was released received the chapter for free. Everyone else got the shaft and has to buy the content. If you’re at all interested in the story of the Guild Wars 2 universe and you’d rather play through it than watch it on YouTube, it’s worth it to pick up the chapters.

Top 5 Things I Dislike About Guild Wars 2

In honour of the fifth anniversary of the game, and with the new Path of Fire expansion being released later this month, and given how it is the only MMO I still play, I decided to make a five part series about Guild Wars 2. This is not sponsored content (nothing on this site is sponsored), it’s just something I made for the sake of doing so.

It’s important to have a well rounded perspective on subjects; People should know that their toaster will kill them if they go sticking their knife in it to dig out their trapped bread. That’s critical information, but you sure won’t find it written in big letters across the outside of the box! So, allow me to take a few minutes to share with you some of the things that piss me off about Guild Wars 2.

1. Crafting is so boring and grindy that I can’t be bothered to do it.
If I had to tell you the one thing I did the most in Star Wars Galaxies, that one thing would be “enjoy the hell out of the crafting system”. And it was great, because it was this multifaceted set of systems that came together to deliver a bunch of related activities that not only gave a person “stuff to do”, but also engaged the person’s mind in the process. Crafting in Guild Wars 2 is like, the total opposite of that.

I can sum up crafting in GW2 with the following…

  1. Get stuff.
  2. Combine stuff.
  3. Repeat.

Now, some would say that’s not fair, because the process of “getting stuff” can be quite involved, but I wholeheartedly disagree. The process of “getting stuff” is also an utterly boring set of activities that amounts to “kill stuff, pray to the RNG gods, repeat” or the similar, “click on resource node, pray to the RNG gods, repeat”. However, that’s not the real problem with crafting GW2. Nope, the real problems are,

There are too many utterly pointless sub components required for damned near everything that you’d want to make. Why are they pointless? Because they don’t effect the quality or … any aspect of the final item, meaning that the sole purpose of their existence is to create busy-work for the player. Yay, busy-work! My life wasn’t already chocked full of shit that takes a lot of my limited time! 😐

And the other major issue is the sheer volume of items that are required for many of the recipes. It was one thing for an item in Star Wars Galaxies to use 7,000 units of resources, because in that game one could set up harvesters to automatically collect resources for them all the time, even when they were offline. But in Guild Wars 2 there’s none of that, yet many of the items one would want to make require 250 of some crusty buttknuckle that can only be looted by playing the same content over and over for weeks. Or you can buy your buttknuckles from other poor saps who have slogged away at that content over and over for years, if you happen to have earned enough gold by… doing some other content over and over for months or years! You see what I am getting at here right? It’s a straight up grind.

When you combine the sub component’s lack of purpose, the crazy amounts of sub components (with some items having a chain of subs that are 10+ items deep), and the sheer obnoxious volume of items that are required, it’s a sad, perhaps even pathetic, miracle that there are people who have dedicated enough of their lives to craft full sets of end game gear in this game. lol… I sure as fuck won’t be doing it!

It would be one thing if the crafting was interesting, like Beast Master crafting or even just normal crafting was in SWG, but the plain truth of the matter is that it’s just… not. Crafting in Guild Wars 2 is an uninspired, boring, “collect X bear asses, click combine” system that’s basically just… there. It’s really too bad, because crafting stuff in games can be extremely engrossing and rewarding.

2. Story instances are filled with gimmick riddled, long, boring solo combat sequences.
For the amount of times my character has been left to fight massive bosses and hundreds of enemies all by herself, I sincerely wonder why she even drags the other dead wieght characters along with her…

As a person who makes game mods and who designs game play systems, I see right through this bullshit. That’s all it is, an artificial way to drag out the time it takes for the player to complete the content. It’s super annoying, it’s not fun, and it’s not even challenging (let alone being challenging in a good way), it’s just a straight up waste of time.

I am doing the story content to… experience the story, not to slog through boring raid mechanics that are designed to be enjoyed by a small niche of “gamers”. Also, I am not there to constantly fight stuff. If I wanted to fight stuff, I can already do that! And you know what? If I wanted to experience raid or dungeon mechanics, I can already do that too!

If nothing else, they need to make the “Skip to End” button available at all times so one can move on to the next step of the script at any point. I would happily forgo rewards to skip boring shit that I don’t care about, because the reward of actually enjoying myself is far greater than some loot foozle I’ll probably just salvage anyway. It’s a foregone conclusion that your character will win the battle, so I don’t see the problem with fast forwarding and sticking up a, “combat happened, you won” summary before moving on to the next part of the story. I mean, the story of the world is far more than you punching stuff and being showered in praise…

3. Many Gem Store items are only available for a limited time.
Seriously, take my money! Gahhh!!!!! 🙂

As I have mentioned in the past, ArenaNet does not know how to make money. They don’t, plain and simple. Rather than making all Gem Store items available at all times, which facilitiates one’s ability to buy something the moment they feel compelled to do so, ArenaNet chooses to hide items away for months at a time. At the very least, they should have a “real money only” store on their website that allows players to buy any Gem Store item, at any time. I am more than happy to spend real money on stuff that I can actually buy.

The Gem Store’s conversion of in game gold to gems is far too generous, from a business sense. There’s no incentive whatsoever to take out one’s wallet and buy something, especially when the thing you want to buy isn’t even available anyway. I genuinely “don’t get it”. And that’s not even getting into their online gambling lock boxes, which I feel are predatory and inappropriate for games in general.

Simply making everything available all the time, even if it was only purchasable with real money, would be amazingly fantastic for every human being who has a life which is interesting enough that they plumb don’t care about following what comes and goes from the Gem Store in Guild Wars 2.

4. Guild Halls are a housing system that is only able to be enjoyed by a handful of people.
Housing systems are cool. Like, really, really, really cool. Unfortunately, someone over at ArenaNet thought it was a good idea to make a housing system for Guild Wars 2 that can only be enjoyed by the smallest imaginable minority of the game’s population.

Yup, rather than give every player the ability to have their own house (or houses, as we have seen in so many other games), ArenaNet locked their housing system behind a massive wall that requires a player to either make their own guild or take over someone else’s guild. You can’t earn a guild hall solo, therefore you can’t use the housing system as a solo player. Now, if you manage to convince a bunch of people to help you complete the quest to earn a guild hall, you can play with the housing system solo, but good luck levelling it to the point of being useful (because doing so requires more materials than one could gather in twenty life times).

It’s just stupid to put a housing system into a game that only has one mode, especially when that one mode is “group play”. Everquest II just walks all over damned near every other game on the market when it comes to player housing, but it totally makes a mockery of the sad little housing system ArenaNet made for Guild Wars 2.

Now, some would say, “Idiot! It’s not a housing system at all!” and and they’d be right, because it’s not. Unfortunately, it should be. As it stands, the guild hall system is a giant “fuck you” to the vast majority of people who play the game, because they paid for it, yet for no good reason at all, they simply won’t ever have the chance to use it.

5. PvP isn’t worth doing, because it isn’t fun.
Unreal Tounement, Quake, Counter-Strike, and other FPS games where players are on equal footing and combat is … “point and clicky” I suppose, is the kind of “player vs. player” game play that I enjoy. I played my fair share of Alterac Valley in World of Warcraft back in the day, but honestly the “group together and mash buttons until people fall down” thing isn’t really my cup of tea. It’s boring and dumb, especially in games like WoW where, “my stats are bigger than your stats, therefore I win!” is prevalent.

Guild Wars 2 has two types of PvP. One where everyone has the same gear level and there are matches, similar to other match based PvP games. And the other is the “World vs. World” open PvP, where everyone is the same level, but the stats on their gear is taken into account. I don’t find either of these game modes interesting, because they all amount to is that thing I mentioned above, where there isn’t any actual game play or strategy, it’s just a ball of people moving around a map smashing buttons. Whoopie… I’ll pass, thanks.

Apart from how fraught with cheaters, exploiters, and general dipshits it has always been, Planetside 2 is really the perfect example of the type of PvP that I actually enjoy. The game play is varied, there are a lot of options for moment-to-moment game play style, and at least initially one could employ actual strategy to accomplish something (even if that “something” was ultimately pointless in the grand scheme of things). I don’t play it anymore though, because it’s full of cheaters and it’s run by a makeshift studio who I have absolutely no faith in whatsoever. Why waste my time on that? I digress… The point is, if PvP in Guild Wars 2 was actually interesting, I would do it, but it’s not, so I don’t.

Dishonourable Mention: The forum/Reddit/dungeon/pvp communities are toxic.
I’ve spent years taking part in various game related forums and I have yet to find one that is as utterly dominated by a few dedicated blowhards as the Guild Wars 2 official forum. Seriously, it doesn’t matter what the topic is, the same twenty or so people will come in, tell the original poster how wrong she was, and then they’ll spend the next fifteen pages shitting up the thread while they squabble with each other about unrelated topics. It’s very sad, but also quite fascinating. ArenaNet’s community team does not appear to be equipped to deal with it, either that or they just don’t care. All I know is, it’s not my job to do the research for them – people get paid to do that shit!

As for the Reddit, it’s a cesspool of unjustifiable “downvoting”, because fuck you for being different, that’s why! 😐 I don’t do “social media” (because it’s stupid and a waste of time), but it is nice to discuss topics of interest with others from time to time. Traditionally, games would have their own forums or there would be a fan website with a forum, but this Reddit website, much like 4Chan before it, is basically a forum that has a section for any topic and that convenience appears to be appreciated by many. It certainly cuts down on the number of logins and passwords one needs to remember! Anyhow, the section for Guild Wars 2 has more than its fair share of dedicated trolls and antisocial people, who will crap on folks for asking legitimate questions (because God forbid, someone ask a question… Sadly, the “Google it, asshole” crowd also crap up the in game chat too), troll people for not enjoying the game the same way they do, and who seem to religiously “downvote” posts for all the wrong reasons.

Bottom line? Don’t waste your time in either spot. If you have feedback on game play issues that you would like to send to ArenaNet, type it out in a bug report or a customer service ticket. That said, neither the Guild Wars 2 forum nor it’s Reddit thing are as laughably full of shit as the Elite Dangerous forum lol… That place is just retarded – even the staff and mods there are trolling assholes.

As far as the PvP and dungeon crowds go in the game, I have read many, many times about how shitty these people are to each other. I don’t have time for that crap, so I don’t even bother with any of that content. I have better things to do with my life than spend it entertaining other people’s petulant children; Fuck them and the broomstick horse they rode in on.


And that concludes my therapeutic venting for the day. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! 🙂

Disclaimer: I have nothing against people who enjoy riding “hobby horses”. I just pictured an obnoxious 20 something man-child riding one around a public place annoying people. Turns out, riding them is actually a sport that encourages female pride in some places, which I think is great! Totally bizarre, but great none the less lol…