Saturday, May 21

From fantasy to a fantasy/steampunk hybrid, GW2- the shock of the new.

Guild wars in a lot of ways was a traditional fantasy MMO, as the game progressed and further chapters released the use of technology remained consistent, with the exception of a few anomalies (the giant robotic boss in Sorrows Furnace), the dwarves had their gunpowder while all else relied on the edge of their blade and/or their magic. It was only with the introduction of the Asura in 'Eye of the North' did we start to see any technology beyond the simple explosives of the dwarves. The asura bought with them the manipulation of magical crystals and their Golem creations, creatures fashioned from a magical technology previously alien to the races of Tyria and beyond. Somehow though they still fitted within the world, their technology seemed more magical than industrial, 250 years later the world has changed and with it the technology.

Over that 250 years the Charr has been the race to create the industrial revolution of Tyria, this sat well with the majority of the fanbase, the few minor outcries about the inclusion of what look like steam powered buggies in the Charr homeland video did little to temper its warm welcome.

The inclusion of guns had some fans upset that the world had moved too far away from its fantasy roots, but in my mind the progression from gundpowder to guns over 250 years seems perfectly logical as does progression beyond that. That progression became very real with this weeks profession release, it also marked a significant change in the way we look at the world of Guild Wars 2. Fantasy purists can pick up their coat on the way out of the door, Anet has made a significant statement this week - The world of Tyria is now firmly a fantasy/steampunk hybrid. Say hello to the Engineer.

I don't want to talk about the profession, watch the video and read this interview to get an overview on how the class plays.

What I'm more interested in is how this profession has created a split in what was a pretty consistent and solid fanbase and what your thoughts are.

The biggest gripe from that video has been the inclusion of a beeping/flashing mine, a technology too close to modern times to sit comfortably with a lot of people, more digital than clockwork, something that seems to have been a bad aesthetic choice by Anet, but something that can be easily rectified, get rid of the flashing light and its beeping audio, replace it with something clockwork and it's sorted. The fact that this is still close to the April Fools Commando Profession reveal can't be ignored either, the memory of that has influenced a few fans judgement on the Engineer as too much too far and not far enough away from the Commando to be taken seriously.

How is all this going to affect the fanbase and the future playerbase of the game? There seems to be a small minority who don't like such a sharp shift away from fantasy who are pledging that their interest in the game has now gone and they won't be investing come release, another section simply don't like the class, wish it wasn't there but will still invest and simply won't be playing it. It's hard to say what the majority feeling is right now, we need more information and to see it in action rather than the highly choreographed skill videos before we can judge how it will play, right now it seems OP but I felt that way about the Thief too.

Me? I like the move forward into a more steampunk feel both with it's environments and this new class reveal. I have the feeling this is going to widen the games appeal, the dynamic combat mixed with a gunner class is going to attract FPS and action orientated players from other genres, not a bad thing for Anet but likely we'll see far too many engineers on the playing fields at first. With Anets statement that the further in to profession reveals we get the more difficult and complex their gameplay becomes I figure we will see less as the game progresses as players discover there is more to the class than simply blowing things up.

It's a controversial move from Anet to take this profession so far, it's still a long way until release and as a company that listens to its fans it will be interesting to see how this will develop as more info is revealed, I expect we'll get more info very soon considering the controversy its caused.

I'm embracing the steampunk feel, I'm happy with fantasy but happier when it moves forward and it's a step in a direction I like, what do you folks think?


  1. Nice piece over on , I like his idea of grenades being alchemist flasks, suits the lore of the class too.

  2. My two longest played MMOs are City of Heroes and Anarchy Online. So I have no issue at all with the introduction of technology in the world. I actually think it is a really clever idea allow the world of GW to advance. It makes it a more realistic world. Nobody can stop progress, not even the White Mantle.

    I am a bit worried though about your comment 'the dynamic combat mixed with a gunner class is going to attract FPS and action orientated players'. I am not so interested in FPS or action oriented game play. If GW2 goes too far in that direction my presence might be short lived.

    So what do I expect play wise from a new MMO? I can't surely want more of the same. I definitely don't want just a good story. Any game I like to play needs to be some sort of a challenge. But if it gets too much action/FPS than my level of challenge lies below the average. An other possibility for challenge is more in strategy. (Don't stand in the fire. Hide behind walls. Use traps.) I think tab-1-2-3 can still be used completely fine to manage combat. It is not really about combat for me.

    It is getting a bit ramblingy now. I have lost the skill to think this stuff through it seems. I will just wait and see how GW2 turns out. But I am still more excited about The Secret World. Mostly because of the setting. But GW2's steampunk bits are for me a step in the right direction.

  3. And on another steampunk note. City of Heroes is going to add a steam punk booster pack. Some cool looking outfits and fluff powers. I will definitely buy it. Have a look at the trailer.

    In further COH news they have merged the US and EU clients in one. So I can now create new characters on the EU servers and meet Lani's original toons if we both both have an active subscription :)

    And on a final COH note COH has started server wide invasion events, and some final event happening on the Freedom server some time this week. (can't find exact dates at the moment.)

    It is nice to see the COH team is still making stuff for their community. I'll stick around for a while longer.

  4. First of all, let me say I missed the mine. I saw a section where something that could've been a mine exploded, but I couldn't see the mine itself. SO no comments on the beepiness.

    Second, I have a big "What's the fuzz" reaction to this. Clearly this is the "Slap in the Face" crowd asking to be bitch slapped again.

    While the original Guild Wars was mostly a Sword & Sorcery Game (as opposed to World) there always were plenty of tech elements. Nor is it exactly new or controversial to include Tech or Steampunk elements in a Fantasy setting. Sword & Sorcery less so, that's true.

    In the game branch, I remember when Games Workshop (it's always them isn't it) introduced Clockwork and Steam tech into Warhammer Fantasy though the Skaven and Dwarfs. Since then Blizzard (of course) copied parts of that but just about every Fantasy MMO has some race or class with a techy gimmick. Heck, the Guild Wars Engineer looks at first suspiciously like the Games Workshop / Warhammer class, so nothing new under the sun really.
    ArenaNet is still firmly in touch with their roots, the copy and polish studio known as Blizzard.

    Now as to the fan base. Hmmm. The majority of the original GW fan base has been legally allowed to drive, drink and vote (not necessarily in that order thank god) since GW came out. While one can hope they also gained a modicum of interest in things other than "LOLZERS I JUST CRITTED 1337 DAMAGE!!! sORRY FOR CAPS!" I would hazard to put forward that the majority of the potential customer base (which is probably a larger group which doesn't completely contain the fan base) is not really that picky or puritan.

    The fact is GW2 will like GW before be way more of a Game than a World which alters expectations, except with the Slap in the Face crowd of course, and toughens the magic bubble. On that note, how may of the whiners today have or have had a character name ending on -nator? Just wondering :-)

    The other reasons why the potential customer base will take this in stride is A) Free to Play (no subscription) again alters the expectations.
    B) If this class is OP it will be first choice regardless of whether it bursts the magic bubble and violates the willingness to disbelief. Just like the "They dumbed down this game and made it to easy" crowd never seems to play the hard to solo classes.

    C) The class seems to fit in well with the overall tech level of the new game. It's not the Engineer which breaks the game's magic bubble, the engineer burst the bubble of denial of some people not paying attention so far.

    GW's set up was never big on immersion, nor was its player base (Remember we had a story-line synopsis on AMP which was an eye opener for a lot of people). The new game on the one hand looks to be trying hard to add more Worldy stuff, yet with the shift towards more arcade-like combat I suspect the Gamey-Worldy index of the new installment will be pretty much the same as with the previous game.

    In closing, I suspect that for the majority of the fanbase who also played the original GW the main annoyance won't be Steampunk elements, but the new wave of 14-16 year old punks. I wonder how many will be introspective enough to recognize themselves in this new wave of players.

  5. On a personal note, I'm a tad disappointed by the fact ArneaNet again takes a leave from Blizzard and steals something from Games Workshop.
    Those were the spitting image of Skaven I saw in that video!

    My outrage can only be mollified by introducing them as a playable race :-)

    Oh, and I agree with Phè that the arcade-style gameplay is more worthy of worry than the introduction of Steampunk. Steampunk's nothing bad. Look at Arcanum, best implementation of the classic Magic vs Technology concept (yeah, ArenaNet will one day do something new and controversial, but it will *NOT* be in the lore section of the company) ever.
    Steampunk really is the natural evolvement of a Fantasy world. Especially since we've diluted the changes between clerical and hermetic magic e.t.c. (not to mention beaten the world tod eath with them) to the point you have to look to Tech to include an interesting tension. Fantasy games are simply following the trends in Fantasy Literature. THey're lagging behind a decade or two, but that's ok, they always have.

  6. Having now seen the Thief video, I have two more thoughts:

    1) How the hell did people not see where GW2 is heading from the Thief video's???

    2) Why did they call it Thief and not Rogue or Swashbuckler?

    The Thief's always been a non-combatative role in Role Playing of any stripe. Only the worst Hack-N-Slash "RPG"s use Thief as a straight out Combat Character. (Ok, and MMO's with multiple Rogue classes who didn't consdier calling them Light Fighter Classes and cut themselves out of the classname Rogue that way)

  7. Oh Phè? Doesn't look like I am given the opportunity to merge my CoX EU account with my US one. So you'd have to choose which toons you want to see, my original EU ones or US ones.
    And that's assuming I'm inclined to resubscribe to CoX at this time, which I'm not.

  8. Sorry for posting off-topic on COH again.

    The COH server lists have been combined. Everybody can now create characters one each of the (12US+6EU=)18 or so servers available. There is nothing you have to do except resubscribe. Which you won't :)

    More in general thanks for reviving the yammob, Geek. I don't think it was very stuffed anymore. More a bit of a hollow yammob. Let's see if we can fill it up again.

  9. He he, you mistake my meaning.
    I have two different CoX accounts, one EU and one US account. While the serverlists were merged, my accounts are still very much seperated with seperate subscription fees and no means to combine them that I have seen. So if I were to resub to play I'd still have to choose between Lani@EU and Lani@US.

    Does this make sense?

  10. D'oh! Of course. My bad. You better stick to Rift for now then.

  11. I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I've never liked steampunk-ish design. On the other hand, engineer was my favorite crafting profession in WoW and in Rift, I'm really enjoying saboteur.

    So, carry on while I have myself a sitdown to sort myself out. lol